The Actors’ Equity Association, the union that represents performers and stage managers on professional stages on Broadway and beyond, has filed a grievance with Waitress producers for profiting from both union and non-union workers at the same time.

Waitress is currently running two tours – a tour of mini-residencies of Waitress, featuring Equity actors and stage managers, is concurrently running alongside the non-union tour by NETworks.

Equity has uncovered evidence that the licensor, National Artists Management Company, has a financial interest in the non-Equity production. This violates the union recognition clause of both Equity’s Production Contract and Short Engagement Touring Agreement to which NAMCO and Barry and Fran Weissler are party, through their membership in the Broadway League.

When Equity first approached the National Labor Relations Board, the Waitress producers had performances planned through 2023. NETworks, the production company, subsequently informed the NLRB that the show was now scheduled through June 2022, which would not allow enough time for a union vote. In response, Equity has withdrawn its election petition. Equity, however, will continue to work to seek union protection for the Waitress workers. 

“It is obvious that these producers fear the will of their workers,” said Al Vincent, Jr., executive director of Actors’ Equity Association, in a statement. “But this problem is much bigger than one employer. Equity additionally has open grievances against the John Gore Theatrical Group and Nederlander Presentations, Inc. for their own double-breasting practices. By pursuing legal action, we intend to get at this issue at its source.” 

“The members of this company have been vocal that they want union representation,” added Stefanie Frey, Equity’s director of organizing and mobilisation. “And this new pathway will make things right for them – and for hundreds of other stage managers and actors being denied the wages and workplace protections a union guarantees. When we prevail in this grievance process, and I am confident that we will, these workers will retroactively be placed on Equity contract for the entirety of the time the Equity Waitress has been contracted, and compensated in salary and benefits accordingly.”