The actors, stage managers, bartenders and servers of the Drunk Shakespeare production in Washington, DC, are now the third company of the theatrical franchise to unionize as Drunk Shakespeare United. Alongside their fellow workers in Chicago and Phoenix, they have designated Actors’ Equity Association, the national labor union representing more than 51,000 professional performers and stage managers in live theatre, as their bargaining representative.
While they would welcome the voluntary recognition their employers offered to their colleagues in Chicago, workers in Phoenix and Washington, DC, are confident their signed union commitment cards will lead to certification by the NLRB.
In all three cities, workers unanimously chose to unionize in order to implement systems that will preserve the high quality of the show and establish a clear line of communication with management to raise concerns as they arise.
“The staff at Drunk Shakespeare are some of the greatest people I’ve ever worked with, and I truly believe we have each other’s backs,” said Kit Krull, an actor who has been with the DC production since it opened last July. “However, that can’t overcome some of the structural issues we’ve faced over the past year. We stand in solidarity with the Drunk Shakespeare Chicago and Phoenix companies and believe that unionizing is the best path forward to addressing organizational issues as well as providing equity for the amount of work we put into this company.”
“The Drunk Shakespeare Chicago company received almost immediate voluntary recognition from their employer, which was a thrilling demonstration of support for workers’ rights,” said Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Association. “Surely this producer has the same respect for the people who make the show happen in Phoenix and DC, right? Equity looks forward to addressing common issues at the bargaining table – while also tackling concerns unique to each production – and ensuring that Drunk Shakespeare has fairer, safer workplaces across the country.”
Drunk Shakespeare currently has five productions of the show running around the country, including the three recently unionized productions as well as companies in Houston and New York. Equity encourages all workers in live performance who feel they would benefit from a union contract to contact the union’s organizing department at actorsequity.org/organize.
ACTORS’ EQUITY ASSOCIATION, founded in 1913, is the US labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. Equity endeavors to advance the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions, and providing a wide range of benefits (health and pension included). Member: AFL-CIO, FIA. www.actorsequity.org
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