Contracts Overview

Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs)

Collective Bargaining Agreements or CBAs are agreements negotiated collectively with one or more employers which set forth the minimum terms and conditions under which covered employees work. Employers who are signatory to a Collective Bargaining Agreement with USA 829 must conform to the minimum provisions of the negotiated agreement. In addition, most USA 829 Agreements allow for a Scenic Artist, Designer, or other covered employee to negotiate “better terms and conditions” such as a higher pay rate. Under no circumstances should an employer ask you to work for less and you, as the employee, are not allowed to grant such a request. An employer must contact the Union and seek a written waiver to the CBA if they have a special request that differs from the terms of the CBA.

The terms and conditions of a CBA, including benefit payments, apply to everyone doing the work covered in the Agreement regardless of union membership. If someone working with you has been denied Union rates and benefits because they are not yet a member, call the office and speak to a Business Representative.

United Scenic Artists holds many different CBAs with employers in scenic shops, theatre, film, television, opera and dance. Many complete agreements and up-to-date rate sheets are available for download, or upon request from the appropriate Union Business office. If you have a question about a particular provision in an agreement, call the Union Office and a Business Representative will help you.

Individual Contracts (Cover Sheets)

Most of our CBAs in live performance design require individual agreements to be filed for Designers and Assistant Designers on Union-provided forms called Cover Sheets. The Cover Sheet works with the CBA and provides details such as the project name, the fee or salary rate, the producer, and venue information.

Many of these Cover Sheet documents are available for download. The Producer or Theatre should present you with a Cover Sheet for signature. You should not begin work prior to having a Cover Sheet signed by the Producer and approved by the Business Office. It is the employer's responsibility to file the Cover Sheet with the appropriate Union Business Office, but you are encouraged to check the status of your contracts in the My Design Contracts section of the website or by contacting the appropriate Business Representative.


Many CBAs in live performance also allow a Rider to be attached to the Coversheet and filed as part of the individual agreement. A Rider lays out specifics of the individual agreement between the producer and the Designer including, but not limited to design deadlines, the production schedule, and travel arrangements.

All “better terms and conditions” for the Designer should be included in the Rider; including such things as "over scale payment" or right of first refusal. Rider language that contradicts or contravenes the CBA will be rejected by the Union.

Union Project Agreements (UPAs)

In addition to our CBAs, individual USA 829 members may work for employers not covered by a CBA under a Union Project Agreement (UPA). There are two types of UPAs. Each has a mandatory Cover Sheet that must be filled out and submitted by the employer. Use of these agreements allows Designers to work for a multitude of theatre, dance, opera and industrial design companies throughout the United States. Scenic Artists should check with the appropriate Business Office before using a UPA.

Standard Design Agreements

These are three promulgated, or Union-created, Agreements for specific types of projects: the Standard Design Agreement–Theatre, the Standard Design Agreement–Dance and the Standard Design Agreement–Opera. The Standard Design Agreement Coversheets are used for a single job for which the employer agrees to adhere to the terms and conditions contained in the Standard Design Agreement. 


Project Only Agreements

This most basic UPA is a one-page agreement covering a specific job for an employer not covered under a CBA. A Rider may be attached and made part of the agreement as long as the terms are acceptable to the Union.