Broadway’s stages narrowly averted joining Hollywood in going dark due to striking workers this week, with the operators finding a last-minute agreement that kept the stagehands from walking off of productions and bringing the curtains down. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) announced it has reached a tentative agreement (pending ratification by its membership) on the Pink Contract with The Broadway League and Buena Vista Theatrical (Disney) that averted a strike on Thursday.

Had a deal not been reached, a strike could have been underway as early as Friday morning. The IATSE represents approximately 1,500 union members, covering stagehands, hair and make-up artists, wardrobe staffers, and other back-of-house workers integral to the business. The contract with those workers covers 28 of the current 30 Broadway productions and 17 national tours.

“The strike has been averted, though the contract must be approved by the membership,” IATSE Director of Communications Jonas N. Loeb told Observer via email.

Entertainment has been roiled by labor issues of late, with the writers guild on strike since May and the screen actors guild joining them in picket lines beginning last week. The acting union impacting Broadway shows – Equity – is still under contract, but an IATSE strike would have hobbled the theatrical business by making it impossible for the show to go on whether or not the actors were present.

“We need to show strength and unity to ensure we win the wages, benefits, and rights that all members at IATSE have earned and deserve,” wrote IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb in a July 18 email to members. Said Loeb in a separate statement: “This strike vote will send a strong message that we will not accept substandard contracts that fail to acknowledge our workers’ contributions. We will not leave anyone stranded, and we will not back down unless we have a deal the members can accept by the end of the week.”

The IATSE has been working on an extension of its existing contract that dates back several years. Playbill says that a tentative new contract had been in the works between the producers and the union leadership in 2020, but the work was scuttled by the pandemic.

For now, at least, the show goes on.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2023