Stage actors in Los Angeles have voted overwhelmingly against a proposal that would require small-theater producers to pay them at least minimum wage. Local members of Actors’ Equity Association voted nearly 2-to-1 against the pay raise — 2,046 to 1,075 — but a union official noted that the vote is “only advisory” to the Equity Council, which is meeting now in New York to decide the matter.

Under the union’s 99-seat waiver plan, small-theater owners in L.A. have been allowed to operate outside the state’s minimum-wage laws, employing actors for as little as $7 an hour. Actors Equity has allowed this, saying that its members were “volunteers.” But the state says there is no minimum-wage exemption for stage actors – even for those who work at small, nonprofit theaters. Local actors, however, are passionate about keeping the so-called 99-seat waiver system in place, saying that many small theaters will close if they are forced to pay minimum wage. 

The council’s final decision is expected any minute. Deadline will update when an announcement is made.