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Casting directors rally for union

Broadway Casting Directors Union Marches on Broadway Producers’ Office

Broadway actors and stagehands join casting directors in calling out producers’ greed

Broadway casting directors and supporters escalated their campaign for a union contract with a rally today in Shubert Alley and a march through Times Square to the offices of the Broadway League. Casting directors are the only Broadway workers without a union, and they do not get healthcare or retirement contributions from the shows they work for. Casting directors are organizing a union with Teamsters Local 817 and are calling on Broadway producers to negotiate a union contract.

“Casting directors can’t be ignored,” said Tara Rubin, casting director for Jersey Boys, Dear Evan Hansen, and other shows. “Our rally today showed the League the depth of support we have from the Broadway unions and the Broadway community at large. We will continue to rally and speak up and speak out until the League agrees to recognize our union.”

In Shubert Alley, among Broadway’s famous theaters, casting directors chanted and heard from Broadway and union leaders. They then marched through Times Square to the offices of the producers’ association, the Broadway League, distributing flyers to Broadway fans along the way. They erected an inflatable rat outside the office and held signs reading, “Fairness For Casting.”

Broadway producers celebrated a record-setting season last year, in which they grossed $1.5 billion and reached new highs for ticket prices.

“We aren’t going away until these essential Broadway workers get the fair deal they deserve,” said Tom O’Donnell, President of Teamsters Local 817. “We are talking about healthcare and retirement for about 40 people in an industry that is making billions. It is shameful how Broadway producers are treating their casting directors and we will make sure fans know.”

In recent months, major entertainment stars have announced their support, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bette Midler, Alec Baldwin, Nathan Lane, Bryan Cranston, Sally Field, and Allison Janney. Casts from most of the shows on Broadway have posted photos on Instagram and Twitter showing their support with the #FairnessForCasting hashtag. They are joined by 20 Tony-winning actors, directors, and designers.

Over 100 supporters joined casting directors at the rally and march, including other Teamsters members, Broadway actors, stagehands, and other theater workers, and elected officials. “The amount of support casting directors are getting has been amazing,” said O’Donnell.

“The Teamsters are in this fight as long as it takes,” said George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16, which represents 120,000 workers across downstate New York. “Broadway casting directors have our full support and they should know that 1.4 million Teamsters across the country stand behind them. It is time for Broadway producers to come to table and give these workers the healthcare, retirement, and union contract they deserve.”

“The Associated Musicians of Greater New York Local 802 AFM is one of Broadway’s oldest unions and we have seen first hand the beneficial impact that fair representation and collective action can have on the artistic and economic vibrancy of the industry,” said Tino Gagliardi, President, Local 802 AFM. “Broadway is booming thanks to the creativity, expertise and skill of the thousands of performers, craftspeople and workers that make these world-class productions possible. If that is to continue, we must ensure that everyone who works in the industry not only have the representation they deserve but the strength and support they need to ensure that they receive the fair wages, benefits and protections they need to live, work and raise a family in New York City.”

Unlike Broadway, the film and television industries have negotiated union contracts with casting directors for more than a decade. Many entertainment companies – like Disney, Warner Brothers, and Universal – use union casting directors for their films while refusing to do so for Broadway shows.

Casting directors are the creative vision behind the dynamic casts that make Broadway shows a success. They are involved in a production from the beginning, assembling actors for readings or workshops, to the end, recasting roles and scouting new talent. Casting directors can work for months or years on a show before they get a formal contract from the producer.

Casting directors and Teamsters Local 817 will continue their campaign and appeals to Broadway fans until Broadway producers agree to negotiate a union contract.