Actors' Equity Association

(AEA)
   This theatrical union was founded in 1913 by a group of 122 actors, led by Francis Wilson, in response to poor conditions and unethical practices by producers. A prior organization, The Actors' Society of America, formed in 1895, advocated for a minimum wage and other issues, but disbanded in 1912. AEA, filling the void, negotiated unsuccessfully with producers for a standard contract until 1919, when tensions reached a peak. AEA called a strike, supported by the Associated Actors and Artistes of America, an organization chartered by the American Federation of Labor. The month-long strike beginning in August 1919 closed theatres in eight cities, forced the closing or prevented openings of numerous productions, and finally brought an agreement with the Producing Managers' Association for a five-year contract. Additional agreements set up a union shop in 1924, established guidelines for actor-agent dealings in 1929, guaranteed a minimum wage for actors in 1933 and a minimum rehearsal pay in 1935. AEA remains the dominant union for professional stage actors.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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