By a margin of 97.2%, Actors' Equity members have overwhelmingly ratified a new four- year LORT contract, which governs employment in 55 theatres represented by the League of Resident Theatres and 16 independent not-for-profit theatres.
Of the 2,150 valid ballots that were received, 2090 members approved the contract and 45 voted no. The term of the new agreement is from February 18, 2013 to February 12, 2017.
Actors' Equity Executive Director Mary McColl served as Chief Negotiator. The negotiating team was chaired by Equity Councilor Joe Zaloom and included members from all job categories (Principal, Chorus, Stage Manager) from all three regions.
"In only six negotiating sessions, our negotiating team was able to fulfill its strategy and focus on increasing compensation in all categories in the contract and making significant improvements in work and audition rules. As a result, we were able to achieve a meaningful salary increase, 12.55% over a four-year period, coming out of a three year period in which salaries were frozen," said McColl.
"Since 2008, LORT theatres have continued to suffer economic challenges as a result of decreased income from government funding sources as well as corporate and individual donations, " McColl added. "The decline in their subscription bases has required a greater reliance on unpredictable single ticket sales. It was in this environment that Equity entered into the negotiations, so I am very pleased with the results."
Recognizing the continued growth in digital marketing and promotional opportunities for theatres, Equity and LORT worked together to create terms that will serve both constituencies by using media to build creative alliances, develop future audiences and encourage the work of new authors and composers. Further, in recognition of how Actors communicate and do business, LORT will now be required to provide high-speed internet access in all actor housing.
Other improvements were achieved in the areas of auditions, EEO language (including provisions for actors with disabilities), health contributions and the LORT transfer rule.
LORT is the second largest group of employers for Equity members (after the Production Contract) and is the largest group of not-for-profit employers. In 2011-2012, LORT theatres generated almost 58,000 work weeks and $59.6 million dollars in member earnings.