Encore Michigan

AEA reaches new agreement with Purple Rose Theatre

News December 07, 2021 David Kiley

CHICAGO, Ill. – Actors’ Equity Association, the national union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, announced today they have reached a new agreement with the Purple Rose Theatre Company of Chelsea, MI.

The agreement reflects a shared commitment to creating a safe workplace, free from the discrimination and harassment the company experienced under its previous leadership. The new agreement also includes advances in wages and work hours as well as additional safety provisions.

Former Artistic Director Guy Sanville

This new agreement comes after more than a year of litigation by former apprentices who charged the theatre with various issues around creating a hostile workplace, poor treatment and excessive work hours. The theatre, founded by Jeff Daniels, settled with a number of apprentices.

The bulk of the complaints, as well as separate and in some cases overlapping complaints by artists of color, female artists and LGBTQ artists, alleging racist, misogynistic and anti LGBTQ treatment, were aimed at Artistic Director Guy Sanville, who recently stepped down from his post after the allegations and details of the litigation became public.

You can read the EncoreMichigan story here, which links out to a seven-part series on Onstageblog.com

The new agreement with AEA began December 3, 2021 and expires on January 1, 2023.

Key provisions include: 

  1. Wage increases from SPT6 to 8
  2. Move to five-day workweek and elimination of “10 out of 12” technical rehearsals
  3. Increase in staged reading wages
  4. Elimination of time bars for reporting discrimination and harassment
  5. Discrimination and harassment language that more specifically prohibits bullying, all forms of discrimination and harassment and retaliation and more clearly defines the avenues for reporting
  6. A requirement of annual anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for all managers
  7. Comprehensive intimacy protocols developed according to standards provided by Equity’s diversity, equity and inclusive strategist.

  • “This contract is now one of the strongest Equity contracts in the country in terms of protecting members from discrimination and harassment, and it will be a model for other theatres,” said Equity Assistant Executive Director and General Counsel Andrea Hoeschen.
  • “Actors and stage managers will have a safer workplace because of the courage and efforts those who revealed a range of working conditions at Purple Rose that were inconsistent with a safe, equitable, unionized workplace.” 
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