Here’s something interesting…It’s about Actors Equity Association, the union for professional actors and stage managers.
For 25 years, AEA has agreed to waive rules for its members working in a small, 99-seat theater. Called the Equity Waiver, it has allowed actors the opportunity to work with small theaters on collaborations of creative theatrical projects, and given them a chance to have roles they may not get in larger theaters.
However, in April AEA eliminated the Equity Waiver for 99-seat theaters and require the theaters to pay AEA members at least minimum wage ($9 an hour and $10 an hour next year). But that move was in defiance of a ruling in a 1989 litigation which stated that any change in the Equity Waiver would require a Review Committee to conduct substantial discussion among all parties involved.
Despite a membership vote, which reportedly resulted in a 2 to 1 vote in favor of Equity Waiver, AEA decided to revoke the waiver policy. That action has resulted in a lawsuit by members of the Los Angeles theatrical community who say under the new Equity rules, they would be prohibited from volunteering their talent at those small theaters; and that foisting new wage rules on the the theaters will force them to close or to hire non-union actors.
There are other facts in this.
The 99-seat theaters that had used Equity Waivers have one year to transition to the new rule. There are theaters which will be exempt: those are theaters with less than 50 seats, and produce no more than 16 performances of one production budgeted at less than $20,000.