A week after Broadway closed as part of New York’s ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the New York Times reports that the theater industry’s unions have negotiated an “emergency relief agreement” that will get hundreds of theater workers, from musicians to ushers to publicists, paid. However, the deal only affects the short-time unemployment of Broadway employees, whose return to work is unlikely to happen on April 13 as planned.
The Broadway League negotiated the deal with 14 labor unions representing a wide variety of theater workers. Per the Times, “all unionized employees will be paid for the week that was cut short by the shutdown, and the following two weeks. For the first, partial, week, they will receive their normal salary, but there is a cap of 150 percent of the minimum salary for their positions as spelled out in labor contracts.” For the subsequent two weeks, workers are to be paid their contractual minimum, which for some means a pay cut.
Theater employees will also get full benefits for two and a half weeks, with their health benefits extending through April 12. What will happen after mid-April, however, remains to be seen. “We worked really hard with our colleagues in all 14 unions to come up with a fair and generous contract that we hope will tide everyone over until other forms of support can be developed,” said League president Charlotte St. Martin to the Times. “Our goal was also to get as many shows to come back as possible, and with the slim margins for 90 percent of the shows on Broadway, we had to take that into consideration.”