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    Posted August 25, 2010

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Equity “Tees Off” American Girl Place – and Wins!

Can a union-made Equity tee shirt get you in trouble? Just ask the Actors at American Girl Place, the 5th Avenue doll emporium that fought their employees’ legal right to form a union a few years back.

During the summer of 2006, Equity was working with the Actors at AGP for union representation at their jobsite - in this case, inside the store in a theatre built especially for live shows promoting the American Girl Place brand. As part of the organizing campaign, the Actors proudly wore Equity tee-shirts to work to show their desire to have Actors’ Equity represent them.

“Now that we see where your loyalties lie," we’re no longer going to consider raises, said AGP, penalizing the Actors where it hurts most – in their paychecks.

Actors’ Equity promptly filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP), accusing AGP of violating the National Labor Relations Act, by penalizing the Actors for their support of the Union.

Shortly thereafter, the actors courageously went out on a two-day strike. However, after two elections forced by AGP went in Equity’s favor, the employer chose to shut down the theatres in all its locations, though Equity did achieve a settlement agreement for the Actors in New York.

Equity tenaciously continued to pursue the ULP on behalf of the wronged Actors. AGP appealed the Administrative Law Judge’s ruling. The appeal was finally heard by the National Labor Relations Board which upheld the prior administrative ruling that AGP violated the NLRA when it penalized the t-shirt wearing thespians.

“Now that the NLRB has weighed in, our hope is that AGP will honor that ruling, rather than engage in yet another appeal,” said Flora Stamatiades, National Director, Organizing and Special Projects.

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