Teamsters Local 817, which represents New York’s film and TV drivers and casting directors, is seeking a contract for Broadway’s casting directors.

“Did you know that casting directors are among the only craftspeople on Broadway that do not have employer-provided health care and pension benefits?” wrote Teamsters Local 817 president Thomas J. O’Donnell in an open letter to the Broadway community. “Neither did I. Quite frankly, I was shocked that such important contributors to the success of Broadway have been denied basic rights and benefits. Most of Broadway is covered by collective bargaining agreements, but the casting community has been left behind.”

“It’s no surprise then,” O’Donnell wrote, “that the theatrical casting community authorized the Teamsters to represent them. Teamsters Local 817 already represents casting directors throughout the entertainment industry where they are recognized in television, feature films and new media by many of the same production companies on Broadway – Disney, Warner Brothers, Fox and Universal – that have all recognized and negotiated with casting directors in these other media.”

“Regrettably,” O’Donnell wrote, the Broadway League, which represents more than 700 theater owners and operators, producers, presenters and general managers around the country, “has refused to recognize the bargaining rights of the casting community. It is especially disheartening that casting directors continue to be treated unfairly when Broadway is celebrating an unprecedented resurgence.”

The chorus of unions and organizations joining the call for “Fairness for Broadway Casting Directors” includes New York’s IATSE Local 1, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Actors Equity, and Musicians AFM Local 802.

“As we all know, the casting community is an integral part of the success of Broadway and as such they deserve the same rights and benefits as casting directors throughout the entertainment industry and as virtually every other person employed on Broadway,” O’Donnell wrote.