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    Posted August 17, 2007

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Judge Rules in Favor of Actors at American Girl Place

The long-simmering battle between Actor's Equity and the American Girl Place took a dramatic turn this week, when an Administrative Law Judge (from the NLRB) found that AGP had committed various unfair labor practices which culminated in the actors' two-day strike last summer.

"From Day One, this has been about the Actors' right to choose AEA as their collective bargaining representative," said Flora Stamatiades, AEA's National Director, Organizing & Special Projects. "At considerable personal risk, a group of courageous non-Equity actors demonstrated in front of AGP, during a brutal heat wave, to confirm their right to unionize. Over a year later, it's time for American Girl Place to stop procrastinating and respect these actors by sitting down at the bargaining table."

Actors' Equity filed the ULP in July, 2006 when it was discovered that a promised wage increase for the actors at AGP was withheld, because the actors showed support for the Union. At the same time, the actors were threatened with more onerous working conditions if they selected the union as their collective bargaining representative.

In his ruling, the Judge cited actions by an AGP supervisor that created a hostile work environment and were "far beyond permissible." "Her [the supervisor's] remarks were direct threats that if the Union succeeded in organizing that actors, that there would be less flexibility and more rigidity concerning matters which were vitally important - vocal rest and working second jobs." The Judge ordered AGP to continue the process of considering wage increases and to make whole any employees who should have received a raise. The ruling covers both the previous production, the "American Girl Revue" and the current show, "Circle of Friends."

Some of the actors who were in the productions last year are still at American Girl Place. They, along with the newer actors, have signed a new petition requesting Equity representation.

An Independent Arbitrator verified that this second petition also demonstrated a clear majority. AGP, of course, has again refused to acknowledge the actors' choice, and accused them of having been coerced.

Referring to AGP's accusation, Ms. Stamatiades said "These are adult professionals capable of making their own decision, and we are proud to support them in their decision."

Two shows currently perform at AGP employing a total of fifteen Actors and Stage Managers.

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