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   Posted May 3, 2006

Equity's Bonding Policy and How It Works

The Equity Bond is one of the Union's cornerstone provisions to protect its members. It has been in place in Equity's contracts for decades, and has been used on numerous occasions to rescue members from defaulting producers or theatres.

Almost all producers are required to post a bond with Equity. (There are a few exceptions, where producers "pre-pay" salaries and benefits, e.g. under the Guest Artist agreement.) This bond ensures that if an employer defaults in his obligations to Equity, you will receive the minimum salary, pension and health credits guaranteed by the agreement (generally two weeks contractual salary and benefits). However, your guarantee is contingent upon the proper filing of your contract.

If you are working under any Equity agreement, you must file a signed copy of your contract with Equity no later than first rehearsal. This helps the Union to enforce your contract, assuring that your production is properly bonded. Filing contracts in a timely manner takes on even greater significance since Equity has introduced electronic employment contracts, which may be released to producers via e-mail after a bond is secured.

Here's how it works: The amount of the bond is determined by whether or not you are employed by a "single-unit" producer or a seasonal theatre.

Single Unit Productions
Only single unit productions are fully protected by a bond - to the extent contracts have been filed with Equity. A single unit production is one that is individually produced (whether by one or more producers) that is not part of a regular season of plays presented by a specific theatre. Production Contract, Cabaret, HAT, BAT, Off Broadway and Mini-Contract shows are examples of single unit productions.

Seasonal Theatres
Seasonal theatres post a bond for the largest number of active contracts in a two-week period. Seasonal theatres include all Stock, LORT, Dinner Theatres, Letters of Agreement and Small Professional Theatres.

When Equity receives more contracts than are protected by the bond, the Union demands that additional bond monies be immediately posted (except in summer stock where the season is too limited and the run of the shows too short for this to be administratively possible). Should the producer fail to increase the bond, the member will have the option of canceling the contract without any further obligation to the employer. Therefore, filing your contract may make the difference in Equity's ability to obtain a bond increase that will protect your contractual guarantees.

If you are employed at a seasonal theatre that defaults, you may receive only the portion of the contract guarantee that is available in the bond. Equity will not make up any difference, but will pursue the defaulting employer in an effort to secure the full obligation due to the members.

Union funds will not be used to make up any bond shortage except in extraordinary circumstances or cases of staff negligence.

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