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December 1, 2004

Significant Gains in Health Contributions Highlight New COST Pact

Significant gains in health contributions highlight the new four-year agreement with the Council of Stock Theatres (COST), which was approved by Council on November 16, 2004. The contract, which covers non-resident dramatic or musical stock and has tiers for salary and health contributions, was set to expire on December 26.

COST theatres covered under the agreement include the Olney Theatre (Olney, MD), North Shore Music Theatre (Beverly, MA), and Paper Mill Playhouse (Millburn, NJ). Casa Manana Theatre (Fort Worth, TX) and La Mirada Theatre (La Mirada, CA) also use the contract.

Health contributions in Tier I theatres go from the current $110 per actor per week to $151 in the final year of the agreement; in Tier III theatres, the rate goes from the current $125 up to $186 in the fourth year; in Tier IV theatres, the rate goes from $130 up to $193, and in Tier V, from the current $135 up to $199 in 2008.

Starting with the second year of the agreement, there will be cost of living increases in minimum salaries in all tiers. Additionally, there are increases in chorus and dance captain increments and overtime pay. The agreement contains improved rules for Stage Managers and Assistant Stage Managers, including ASMs getting paid the SM rate when the Stage Manager is not present. The agreement calls for best efforts to include the Equity bio in all programs and requires the posting of the Equity bio and logo in the theatre's lobby and on its website. North Shore Music Theatre, in fact, included an Equity bio in its first program following the negotiation.

Equity's Chief Negotiatior was Senior Business Representative Rick Berg. Eastern Business Representatives Russell Lehrer, Deana Marie Kirsch and Marty McDonough also participated. Equity's negotiating team was chaired by Thomas Jay Miller and included Doug Carfrae (1st Vice Chair), Jeanne Lehman (2nd Vice Chair), Mark Aldrich, Cathy Bruce, Wally Dunn, Jeanne Fornadel, Christine Toy Johnson, Irma Rogers and Julia Breanetta-Simpson.

The Tier II theatres, including the Cape Playhouse (Dennis, MA), Ogunquit Playhouse (Ogunquit, ME) and Westport Country Playhouse (Westport, CT), will negotiate separately and individually.

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