Casts of 20 Broadway Shows and Numerous Celebrities Join Campaign for Casting Directors Union
Allison Janney, Billy Porter, Jeremy Jordan, Beth Behrs, Michelle Dockery, and Sara Bareilles join social media campaign #FairnessForCasting
Teamsters to drive tractor-trailer with “Fairness for Casting” banner to Tonys red carpet
As Broadway prepares to hold the Tony Awards, the campaign by Broadway casting directors for a union contract is receiving a surge of support from Broadway casts and celebrities. Dozens of major actors, including former Tony winners and 2017 nominees, are posting their support on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #FairnessForCasting.
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.
Actors and other supporters, including multiple Emmy-winner Allison Janney and Liam Neeson, are posting photos of themselves holding “I Support Casting Directors” signs with messages of support on Instagram and Twitter. Beth Behrs, star of 2 Broke Girls, wrote on Twitter, “It’s a collaborative art form. I stand with my fellow collaborators. #FairnessForCasting.”
Michelle Dockery, of Downton Abbey fame, posted on Instagram, “Casting Directors are the only workers on Broadway without a union. They are an integral part of our industry and deserve protection and benefits.”
Eva Noblezada, star of Miss Saigon, wrote, “Did you know our beloved casting directors are currently without a union? Get involved & show your support…they sure as hell support us.” Current Tony nominees Katrina Lenk, Gavin Kreel, Patti Lupone, and Christine Ebersole, past Tony winners Billy Porter and Tracy Letts, and past nominees Jeremy Jordan, Sara Bareilles, Alex Brightman, Lauren Worsham, Rob McClure, and Carrie Coon, have also posted their support. They are joined by leading Broadway directors Michael Mayer, Trip Cullman, and Moritz Von Stuelpnagel. Josh Radnor of How I Met Your Mother and the upcoming Rise also posted his support.
“We appreciate the tremendous support we have received from inside and outside the Broadway community, and from our brothers and sisters in TV and film, who fought this fight and prevailed twelve years ago,” said David Caparelliotis, casting director for Tony-nominated plays A Doll’s House, Part 2 and The Glass Menagerie, among others. “We are proud to be moving forward, undeterred, in our efforts to obtain health insurance and benefits for this and successive generations of casting directors.”
In addition, cast members from 20 current Broadway shows have also posted #FairnessForCasting photos on social media. Among them are Book of Mormon, Hamilton, Indecent, Beautiful, Hello Dolly!, Kinky Boots, Cats, Sunday in the Park with George, Waitress, Six Degrees of Separation, Miss Saigon, The End of Longing, The Little Foxes, Anastasia, Falsettos, Bandstand, A Bronx Tale, Phantom of the Opera, Waitress, Kinky Boots, and Come from Away All of the photos can be seen by searching #FairnessForCasting on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Casting deserves benefits. #FairnessForCasting pic.twitter.com/Swa8Vk3gRH
— Eric Anderson (@oleEricAnderson) June 9, 2017
The Teamsters union hopes to ensure that the casting directors’ call for fairness cannot be ignored at the Tony Awards. Local 817 will drive its tractor-trailer with a “Fairness for Casting” banner to the Tonys red carpet, outside Radio City Music Hall.
“Broadway producers can no longer ignore their casting directors’ call for health insurance and retirement security,” said Tom O’Donnell, President of Teamsters Local 817. “This is Broadway’s big night, and the Teamsters will be just beyond the red carpet.”
Broadway casting directors joined Teamsters Local 817 in 2016, but the Broadway League refused to negotiate a union contract with them. Without a union contract, casting directors are left to find expensive health insurance on their own, or go without it. Their employers – the producers – also make no contributions toward their retirement.
“Health insurance and a plan for retirement are a basic right for all other Broadway workers,” said Will Cantler, a Broadway casting director for plays including Present Laughter, Hand To God, and All The Way. “It shouldn’t be a hard-to-obtain privilege for casting directors. It’s time the producers we work for treat us like everyone else and sit down with Local 817.”
Unlike Broadway, the film and television industries have negotiated union contracts with casting directors for more than a decade. Many of the entertainment companies – like Disney, Warner Brothers, and Universal – produce both films and Broadway shows, leaving many to wonder why union casting directors are acceptable to the companies in the first instance, but objectionable in the later.
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.
While casting directors have gotten the cold shoulder from the producers, they have the full support of other Broadway unions, including IATSE Local One, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, the Actors Equity Association, and Musicians AFM Local 802.
“The Casting Directors who work on Broadway perform crucial services to the industry,” said Matthew Loeb, President of IATSE. “They have expressed their desire to be represented by Teamsters Local 817. They, like all workers, deserve the dignity that comes with the provision of health and retirement benefits along with the protection of a union contract. The IATSE stands strong behind the union and the Casting Directors in their endeavor for fairness and respect.”