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Broadway Casting Directors March On Times Square In Effort To Unionize

(STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images)

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Ted Goodman Reporter

Broadway casting directors, one of the last non-union jobs in the industry, marched on Times Square in New York City Monday afternoon in an effort to unionize.

The directors, along with family and friends, marched from Shubert Alley to the offices of the Broadway League in the Theatre District. The 40 full time directors, along with the part-time directors on Broadway, are asking for a union contract which would allow for pensions and health insurance.

“It is crazy that the younger generation of casting directors don’t have a pension or don’t have health insurance to build a career,” Bernard Telsey, who casts popular Broadway shows including “Hamilton” and “Hello, Dolly!,” told Playbill. Telsey and his cohorts were joined by Teamsters Local 817 President Tom O’Donnell. The Teamsters represent the casting directors, but without the recognition from the Broadway League, the directors are not entitled to union benefits.

The league, which represents everyone from theatre owners to producers and presenters, has previously disagreed with the Teamster’s position.

“Like other vendors such as advertising agencies, accountants and lawyers … casting companies are engaged as independent contractors; they are separate businesses with their own employees and typically work on more than one show at a time within and outside our industry,” the league said according to The New York Daily News.

Broadway remains a multi-billion dollar industry in the Big Apple, and the directors argued that it was a New York problem that demanded the attention of city leaders.

“We have multiple city organizers, city councilmen, and all of the other Broadway unions, who are 100 percent supportive of this,” Telsey said. “It’s amazing to see the New York government officials get behind this, because it is a New York issue.”

The League remained defiant Monday, asserting that it was prepared to expedite a National Labor Relations Board process in order to settle the matter.

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