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January 13, 2003

THIRTEEN BROADWAY UNIONS AND GUILDS FORM INDUSTRY-WIDE COALITION:
COBUG EYES PUBLIC POLICY AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING TO PROMOTE BROADWAY

Thirteen Unions and Guilds collectively representing over 75,000 workers in the live entertainment industry announced the formation of a Coalition to address issues of common interest to their members who work on Broadway: the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds (COBUG). The Coalition represents all aspects of the Broadway theatre, from actors, musicians, playwrights, directors and choreographers, to set, costume and lighting designers, stagehands, ushers and ticket-takers, box office personnel, wardrobe, hairstylists, porters, press agents and company managers.

The mission of COBUG is to strengthen the position of every constituent union and guild within the industry and "to make our collective voice and concerns heard by employers, public officials and the theatre-going public," said Anthony DePaulo, Business Manager for IATSE Local 1, Stagehands, and Alan Eisenberg, Executive Director, Actors' Equity Association, who serve as COBUG'S Co-Chairs. The members are:

  • Actors' Equity Association (AEA)
  • American Federation of Musicians, Local 802 (AFM)
  • Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers, Local 18032 (IATSE)
  • Dramatists Guild
  • International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, International (IATSE)
  • Makeup Artists-Hair Stylists Union Local 798 (IATSE)
  • Motion Picture Projectionists, Operators, Video Technicians, Theatrical Employees & Allied Crafts, Local 306 (IATSE)
  • Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SSD&C)
  • Service Employees International Union, Local 32BJ Theatre Division (SEIU)
  • Theatrical Protective Union Stage Hands, Local 1 (IATSE)
  • Theatrical Wardrobe Union, Local 764 (IATSE)
  • Treasurers & Ticket Sellers Union, Local 751 (IATSE)
  • Local United Scenic Artists (USA) 829 (IATSE)

Broadway is New York City's top tourist attraction, generating billions of dollars (and tax revenues) for tourist-related businesses like theatres, hotels, restaurants, and taxis; it is one of New York's largest employers, providing jobs and benefits for thousands of workers; and it supports numerous ancillary service industries. Almost 11 million tickets were sold in the 2001-2002 season, grossing $643 million dollars in revenue for Broadway producers and theatres.

The formation of the Coalition is the direct result of meetings that began after September 11, 2001, when every union and guild took unprecedented, across-the-board pay cuts in order to keep a number of long-running Broadway shows from closing. "Like many citizens, our members demonstrated their commitment to Broadway and to the future of this city in a very tangible way," said DePaulo and Eisenberg. "Directly and symbolically, our members kept the lights shining on Broadway during those very dark times and saved New York's most important industry."

Meetings in the months following helped to shape a broad spectrum of interests and a shared, progressive agenda. Among these goals are:

  • Achieve Recognition by State and City Officials and the Media, that unions and guilds are a crucial and integral part of the theatrical industry and that a dialogue must be established with this constituency
  • Advocate Public Policy which benefits labor and the entertainment industry
  • Build Positive Relationships with Civic, Trade and Employer Organizations
  • Collective Bargaining with Shared Employers
  • Promote Tourism and Broadway
  • Support Public and Private Funding for the Arts
  • Address Healthcare and Workplace Safety Issues
  • Assess Impact of New Media and Computerized Technologies on Live Theatre

"Significant attention will be paid to educating the public about the issues that we face at the bargaining table," added DePaulo and Eisenberg. COBUG members will share information about collective bargaining issues, starting with USA Local 829's current negotiations and the musicians upcoming Broadway negotiations next year.

COBUG has authorized DePaulo and Eisenberg to set up introductory meetings with representatives from the League of American Theatres and Producers, the industry's main employer group. Future meetings with non-League employers are planned as well.

For further information, contact: Gordon Forbes / ATPAM 212-719-3666

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