The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) has called a strike authorization vote following protracted, unsuccessful negotiations with The Broadway League and Disney Theatrical, collectively representing Broadway and national tour producers. Members have until 2 AM ET July 21 to vote, which could result in a strike being called as early as Friday morning, according to IATSE representatives. Such a move would immediately shut down most Broadway and national tour productions. To prevent a strike, League and Disney representatives would have to return to the bargaining table before showtime July 21.
The move would affect approximately 1,500 union members employed via IATSE's Pink Contract, which covers stagehands, hair and make-up artists, wardrobe personnel, and others employed directly by productions. The contract covers 28 of 30 currently-running Broadway productions and 17 national tours. Any production not employing IATSE members on the Pink Contract would be able to continue performing regardless of a strike.
"We need to show strength and unity to ensure we win the wages, benefits, and rights that all members at IATSE have earned and deserve," wrote IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb in a July 18 email to members. Said Loeb in a separate statement: "This strike vote will send a strong message that we will not accept substandard contracts that fail to acknowledge our workers’ contributions. We will not leave anyone stranded, and we will not back down unless we have a deal the members can accept by the end of the week."
The union had been closing in on a tentative new contract in 2020 shortly before COVID-19 shut down live theatre worldwide. When theatre returned more than a year later, this contract was extended through July 2, 2023, a date that has since been further extended while productive negotiations continued. This strike authorization vote would seem to indicate that those negotiations have reached an impasse.
According to union representatives, IATSE was able to secure tentative agreements to protect healthcare without cuts or increased out-of-pocket costs along with the first-ever contractual obligation for employer-provided housing for touring crews. Remaining grievances from the union include salary increases and weekly and daily rest periods for IATSE members.
IATSE would be the third major entertainment union to go on strike in recent weeks, joining film and TV unions SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America. Actors' Equity Association, which represents actors and stage managers on Broadway and Broadway League-represented national tours, approved a new Broadway contract in December 2022 that will remain in effect for three years. IATSE also recently reached a new agreement for national tours not represented by The Broadway League, commonly referred to as non-union tours (the productions may use IATSE union members, but generally do not cast AEA members in the performing company).
The last IATSE strike, which was the first in the union's history, was in 2007. It lasted 19 days.