SAG-AFTRA And Actors’ Equity Resolve Jurisdictional Dispute Over Taping Of Live Theater

SAG-AFTRA and Actors’ Equity Association have reached an agreement to end their bitter jurisdictional feud over the taping of live stage presentations.

“We are happy to report that SAG-AFTRA and AEA have reached a unanimous agreement with respect to the broadcast and streaming of live performances during the pandemic period,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris and national executive director David White on Thursday. “The agreement preserves SAG-AFTRA’s historic jurisdiction while creating an important accommodation that serves performers.”

AEA has jurisdiction over live theater actors and stage managers, but SAG-AFTRA has long held that the taping of live shows falls within its jurisdiction. SAG-AFTRA offered Actors Equity a waiver to help out their fellow actors during the coronavirus shutdown of live theaters across the country, but Equity rejected it. Mary McColl, Equity’s executive director, accused SAG-AFTRA of “looking to use a pandemic to claim jurisdiction in Equity workplaces now and into the future in a way they haven’t had before.” SAG-AFTRA then filed a jurisdictional complaint with the Associated Actors and Artistes of America – commonly known as the 4As – through which both unions are affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

Announcing the settlement of the dispute, SAG-AFTRA leaders said that “recognizing that “recognizing the challenges for theater during the pandemic and that the only way for live theater companies to reach audiences is by recording and/or streaming productions to a remote audience, SAG-AFTRA has agreed that AEA will cover this work during the pandemic period with a term concluding December 31, 2021, subject to certain limitations including distribution on platforms like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc.”

See the full terms of the agreement here.

“We are pleased that we are able to help create work opportunities for AEA members when it is vitally needed, while also protecting SAG-AFTRA members’ work opportunities now and into the future,” Carteris and White said in a statement. “Existing contracts with SAG-AFTRA will be honored for their duration. Both SAG-AFTRA and AEA have agreed to refer to the other union work that is within their jurisdiction.”

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