Double Or Nothing!

You all remember my infamous bet from last fall when I incorrectly predicted that the Producers and the Stagehands “would be friends”.

Well, let’s get ready to rumble!

Or not.

The Actors’ Equity Production (Broadway) Contract expires at the end of June.  While emotions are still high from the fall fireworks, there will be no strike.

Why not?  I don’t see an issue that could escalate to that kind of action.  Even if there isn’t agreement right away on raises, the hiring of aliens from overseas, etc., I’m sure talks will continue until they hammer out a deal.  There may be a few threats (and expect Local 1 to express their unwavering support), but the marquees will stay lit.

Who wants a piece of this action?  2:1 odds in your favor.

One issue both sides should discuss?  Health insurance.  There will no doubt be an increase to the already high weekly cost of a producer’s required weekly contribution to the co-administered League-Equity health fund – currently $153/week or $612/month or $7,956/year per actor!

It would be cheaper for the Producer to purchase their own insurance just like any other new company, and cover each actor from day 1 of employment, rather than make the actor qualify for insurance (the current plan requires that an actor work for 12 weeks to earn only 6 months of coverage, and 20 weeks for a full year).

Actors would get their insurance faster and producers would save money.

I realize that this idea is in exact opposition to the idea of union provided benefits.

But sometimes, when you’re lost, you have to think about turning around and going the opposite direction to get you back on track again.

  • Loved the link to the Crain’s article about producing. I’ve seen other articles which made similar claims about the returns from some producers. Keeping a high rate of return on your investment is also job security for Producers. As long as a show in pre-production or open, the folks in the front office are also working. Throw enough stuff against a wall, some of it is bound to stick. And some will even be called art. It’s why I never really bought into the whole idea that the reason that 3 out of every 5 shows on Broadway closed without recouping was because of the dirty, dirty stagehands. It’s because 3 out of 5 shows were made out of stuff.
    I would be interested in finding out how you think it’s possible, in this day, to reduce your health insurance costs by insuring a smaller group for a shorter time. It seems rather counterintuitive. Small companies open with an expectation of getting bigger and having some permanency. In order for large companies or unions to gain the benefits of comparison shopping, they hire experts. You, the Producer, are going to have to hire a benefits officer to oversee your small, short term plan. Even if you plan on going with a bare bones WalMart type plan, what insurance company is going to insure a group of actors without first requiring medical check-ups? And in a production that may close on opening night? Insuring a high risk group in a high risk business on the short term seems to me would end up costing you more, not less.

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