Actors’ Equity has delayed the implementation of its new 99-seat waiver policy in an effort to resolve a lawsuit filed by a group of dissident actors led by former SAG President Ed Asner, who say the policy will destroy small theater in Los Angeles. The policy, which had been set to take effect on June 1, 2016, would require many small-theater producers to pay their actors at least minimum wage, which is currently $9 an hour. Under the current rules, many small theater actors work for as little as $7 a day.
Both sides have agreed to attempt to resolve the dispute through mediated negotiations, with the dissidents agreeing not to serve the complaint on the union and the union agreeing to extend the deadline for implementing the new policy for as long as they keep making progress towards a new deal. The plaintiffs also have withdrawn all claims and causes of action against Equity executive director Mary McColl. She had been named as a defendant in their lawsuit, which was filed but not served in Los Angeles federal court in October.
In a joint statement, the parties expressed “a mutual desire to conduct ongoing discussions in a confidential manner and both sides have agreed to a media blackout during this time.”