Young, Scrappy, and Hungry for Profit Sharing

A photo posted by Hamilton (@hamiltonmusical) on

The original cast of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton have struck a deal with producers that will give them a cut of the show’s immense profits, New York Times’ Michael Paulson reports:

The deal, which was announced by a lawyer representing more than two dozen actors and dancers who were part of the show’s development and first productions, is a major victory for the cast and could have ripple effects in the theater industry, where the huge success of “Hamilton,” and the lack of profit-sharing, catalyzed a growing debate about actor compensation.

The agreement means that actors will have a piece of “the profit stream from the play,” Ronald H. Shechtman, a leading labor lawyer in the theater industry who represented the “Hamilton” performers, said in a statement. Jeffrey Seller, the lead producer of “Hamilton,” a megahit now generating upward of $500,000 in profit every week on Broadway, confirmed the agreement. Neither Mr. Seller nor Mr. Shechtman would discuss details, some of which remain to be hammered out, and Mr. Shechtman said that the performers were not ready to comment on the deal.

Innovative financial genius that he was, the ten dollar founding father without a father would surely be tickled to see his eponymous musical making waves in the theatre industry’s compensation practices. The Hamiltonians aren’t alone in embracing employee profit-sharing: American Airlines announced last month that it would pay out 5 percent of its pretax profits this year to non-management employees, and office cleaning startup Managed by Q garnered praise from Labor Secretary Tom Perez when its CEO Dan Teran announced that it was giving its frontline employees 5 percent of the company.

Some political leaders see profit-sharing as a promising way to make Corporate America more equitable. Last July, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton proposed a federal tax credit for businesses that share profits with their employees (and Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson poured cold water on the idea). This type of reward is making a splash outside the US as well: Last September, the Harvard Business Review ran a praiseful profile of the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei’s profit sharing program, which is almost entirely owned by its employees.