On the evening of February 6, AGMA leadership and the Dancers and Stage Managers of American Ballet Theatre voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. The Artists voted 95.6% in favor of authorizing the strike.
This pivotal move follows an arduous eight-month period of negotiations that has unfortunately not resulted in a fair contract. During this time, AGMA Artists at ABT have been diligently working under an expired contract since September.
The dedication and unwavering commitment of the Dancers and Stage Managers of ABT are beyond dispute. They consistently perform at the pinnacle of their field, often at the cost of their well-being, safety, and financial stability, all in the pursuit of ensuring ABT’s success and artistic excellence.
Despite its status as one of the world’s leading ballet companies, a striking disparity persists at ABT, where only 30% of Artists earn a sufficient income from their ABT salary to sustain themselves.
Currently, ABT is:
- Proposing a mere 1% Cost of Living adjustment to dancers who have seen no such adjustment in the past 8 years.
- Proposing salaries that would leave over 20% of the Company living below a living wage in New York City.
- Falling significantly behind industry peers in terms of work weeks and retirement contributions, further exacerbating the financial strain on ABT Artists.
The last time AGMA voted to authorize a strike was in 2018, under similar circumstances.
Sam Wheeler, AGMA’s National Executive Director, who has been granted the authority by AGMA Leadership to call the strike at an opportune time, stated, “A work stoppage is the most powerful action union members can take, but a strike is always a last resort. We aim to keep our members working, but not at the expense of their health, safety, and well-being. With American Ballet Theatre, we find ourselves at a juncture where a strike is a serious consideration. We call on ABT leadership to rise to the moment and come to a fair contract that values these tremendous artists commensurate with their skill, artistry, and dedication. If not, we are prepared.”
ABT management’s failure to respond adequately has jeopardized ABT’s upcoming engagement of Swan Lake at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
AGMA urges its members nationwide to stand in solidarity with these Artists. Show support by sharing this message and following the dancers’ official Instagram account @abtofficial. AGMA stands ready to provide support should these Artists choose to strike. Stay informed through AGMA’s official channels for updates on the impending strike and other actions AGMA Artists and friends can take to support the Artists of ABT.
Let American Ballet Theatre know: Enough is enough.