WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU GET HIRED
TO ASSIST OFF-BROADWAY
Check if you're Covered
First of all, check with your designer to confirm that your show is indeed an Off-Broadway League show, and therefore covered by the Off-Broadway League/USA 829 CBA.
If it is an Off-Broadway League show, refer to this flowchart to see what your coverage options are. Off-Broadway producers are permitted to hire some assistants each season outside the terms of the CBA, so it is possible that even though it's an Off-Broadway show, you may be offered a non-CBA contract.
Decide on a Rate
The Off-Broadway CBA does not lay out a pay scale for assistant designers, it only states that assistant designers shall be hourly employees who are not exempt from overtime rules. That means that YOU decide what your hourly rate will be.
Talk with your designer to decide on an hourly rate. This rate will will cap the number of hours you work on the show: (the amount they pay) divided by (your rate) equals (the number of hours you can work.)
New York law requires a minimum of $15/hour. OBADAG suggests no less than $25/hr. OBADAG suggests filling out this hours and pay calculator together with your designer to estimate the number of hours and the amount of work.
If you are not a member of USA 829, decide if you want to join the MC Program. OBADAG strongly suggests you join this program - it is free and helps you work towards healthcare and union membership! Look here for more information on this program.
Connect with the Theatre
The designer should inform the producer that they want you to be hired. If you are a USA 829 member, a Membership Candidate, or if you are neither but are being hired under the terms of the CBA even so, the producer should then send you a cover sheet with all the relevant information, schedule, etc. Ensure that the information is correct, including the checkbox that indicates whether you are a Membership Candidate.
If you are not a USA 829 member, not an MC, and not being hired under the terms of the CBA, your hiring paperwork will be different and unique to the producer. Be sure that your hourly rate ($15 or greater), payment terms (weekly? bi-weekly?), total expected pay, and dates of employment are clear. Also be sure that you are clearly being HIRED, and not CONTRACTED. By city, state, and federal law, all theatrical designers and assistant designer are classified as employees, not contractors.
Before signing the cover sheet, negotiate a rider with the producer. Some producers have a standard rider they use, others prefer to let the employee suggest a rider. In any case, remember that the language in the rider is a negotiation between you and the producer. You both can suggest anything (as long as it doesn't conflict withe the CBA) and you both can reject suggestions from the other party. The only thing that is absolutely required in the rider is a clear definition of your hourly rate of pay.
After you and the producer (and the designer, if necessary) have come to agreement on terms of the rider, sign your cover sheet and return it to the producer.
After both you and the producer have signed the cover sheet and rider, the producer will send them to the union for approval. Once the union approves and signs the coversheet as well, you can begin working!