Broadway production assistants (PAs) have unionized via Actors' Equity Association and will be seeking voluntary recognition from The Broadway League. The move marks the first time in decades the theatrical union has added a new job role to its membership.
"The Broadway League and our members support the right of employees to lawfully choose a bargaining representative," says a statement from the League. "We have received a request for recognition from Actors' Equity Association for certain Production Assistant positions. As we have already communicated to the Union, we look forward to discussing it further with them."
Equity represents professional actors and stage managers, so that, among other reasons, stage managers can help act as on-site union rule enforcement. The union also represented choreographers until they split into their own separate union in 1959.
PAs fulfill a varied list of tasks on Broadway productions, from preparing rehearsal materials to running errands. Those working as PAs are often working towards careers in stage management, hence the group's unionizing with AEA. Equity says that PAs are among the only Broadway workers working without current union representation, and that this unionization move includes PAs currently working on 10 Broadway productions along with 100 more individuals who have worked on Broadway in the last two years.
"Getting a Broadway production up and running is an enormous task, and the work of Broadway’s stage management teams prior to opening night is fundamental to any show’s success," says AEA 3rd Vice President Erin Maureen Koster. "Every one of these workers, whether their title is production stage manager, stage manager, assistant stage manager or production assistant, is a skilled professional and essential to the team. And yet, production assistants have stood alone for too long as the only members of these teams without the basic protections of union contracts—without safe and sanitary workplace requirements, without protections against harassment and discrimination, without living wages, without health and pension benefits. Until now. We are thrilled to support the effort of Broadway’s production assistants to complete the unionization of Broadway’s stage management teams, and we look forward to achieving the fair and meaningful contract they have long deserved."
The unionizing PAs say they will overwhelmingly vote to unionize via National Labor Relations Board election should The Broadway League not voluntarily recognize their union status.