Backstage union International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) has added touring physical therapists to its membership. As of August 31, 18 physical therapists, athletic trainers, and massage therapists working on such national tours as The Lion King, Wicked, and Moulin Rouge! have formed a union within IATSE. It is the first time in the union's history that it has negotiated a collective bargaining agreement for touring physical therapists.
The group is joining IATSE's ACT (Associated Crafts and Technicians) Local, which includes touring production workers nationwide.
Physical therapists are engaged by tours to reduce the number of cast injuries and are specialized to provide critical treatment for productions, rehearsals, and live performances. All 18 newly unionized workers are employed by Neuro Tour. The unionization process has been in the works since February.
“Physical therapists for dance and the performing arts deserve the respect of union and a contract that recognizes the value, education, and time they put into their work,” says IATSE International Representative Dan Little. “Coming together in a union is the ultimate sign of self-respect."
"I believe that with the support of IATSE, we have a much stronger support system," adds Maeve Talbot, Doctor of Physical Therapy. “We hope to voice our concerns and make some meaningful changes."
The addition of physical therapists is the latest development for the backstage union, which successfully renegotiated its Pink Contract covering Broadway and National Tour workers, and a long-awaited new contract for Broadway hair and makeup artists last month.