July 22, 2024

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Broadway strike avoided after walkout vote, hours before the deadline.

A potential strike affecting Broadway shows seems likely to be avoided, with a tentative deal reached just hours after a union representing 1,500 backstage workers announced a vote to walk out. The strike, which could have started as early as Friday, potentially halting 28 shows in New York and 17 touring shows, has now been called off due to the proposed agreement. The details of the deal are not yet known and must still be agreed upon by the union members before it can take effect.

The “International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE),” which represents stagehands, hair and make-up artists, and wardrobe talent on Broadway, had been negotiating with the Broadway League and Disney Theatrical, the groups representing Broadway producers. The IATSE members were seeking salary increases and guaranteed weekly and daily rest periods. Shows like Wicked, Back to the Future, and Romeo and Juliet would have been affected by the strike.

The announcement of the walkout vote so close to the potential strike deadline was unusual, as strike votes are typically conducted well in advance to allow more time for negotiations. If the strike had occurred, it would have had a significant impact on New York City’s tourist economy, as Broadway theatres are major attractions for visitors.

The Broadway League reported that the theatres had a total attendance of 12.3 million and grossed $1.6 billion in ticket sales in the first full season since the pandemic.

Without the deal, IATSE would have been the third major entertainment union to strike this summer, joining the “Screen Actors Guild—American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and the “Writers Guild of America (WGA).” The Hollywood dispute, involving SAG-AFTRA and WGA, showed signs of escalating after Universal Studios faced accusations of intentionally cutting back trees to shade a picket line in Burbank.

The “Actors’ Equity Association,” representing acting talent on Broadway, had already approved a three-year contract in December 2022. The last IATSE strike occurred in 2007 and lasted for 19 days.