Los Angeles theaters with fewer than 100 seats will have to begin paying at least $9 an hour to performers for any work they do on a production under a minimum-wage policy approved this week by the Actors' Equity Association, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The decision by leaders of the national actors' union came after Los Angeles-area rank-and-file members voted by a more than 2-to-1 margin to oppose the wage floor, which opponents say would exponentially raise costs for small stage companies and force many to shut down.
The minimum wage will take affect on June 1, 2016, for scores of theater groups that to date have been required only to pay actors token amounts for performances and nothing for rehearsals. The new rules include exceptions: one for actor-controlled "membership companies," which will be able to set their own pay rates, and for some limited-run or very low-budget productions in houses with fewer than 50 seats. Union leaders say they are responding to complaints from Los Angeles actors about low pay.