UTA has just informed its employees there will be “temporary furloughs” that are needed in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The number is high, I’m told, and will mainly impact assistants, but isn’t entirely limited to that.
Employees impacted by this will lose their paychecks in a couple of weeks and the intention is to bring people back when business resumes. Employees will have their health premiums paid, and the expectation is they will be filing for unemployment checks that will help them through this crisis, and the advance notice hopefully gives those furloughed the chance to apply for unemployment and have it kick in when the paychecks stop. This is the equivalent of an unpaid leave, something that has been common during this pandemic crisis.
This is the latest move by UTA, which along with every other agency and many studios, has had to make painful cuts to compensate for the business coming to a screeching halt due to COVID-19 shutting down production, movie theaters and live arena events, which are life blood to the talent agencies. The hope has been to avoid layoffs.
On March 23, UTA’s top guys Jeremy Zimmer, David Kramer and Jay Sures, disclosed they would take no salary until business gets back to normal, and UTA partners took cuts of 35% to 50% in their base salary. The plan was to graduate the cuts in relation to income, with the lowest-paid staffers being affected the least. UTA has over 1,100 people who work there.
An internal memo has been sent to employees by agency chief Zimmer. Here it is:
From: Jeremy Zimmer
Sent: Monday, May 4, 2020 9:32 AM
To: All UTA
Subject: Necessary Next Steps
Today is one of our most difficult days in the near 30-year history of UTA. I am terribly sorry for all of our colleagues being furloughed.
This is a rough time in the world and work can be an important tether that keeps us connected. All this is made more difficult by our distance and the fact that we cannot be together physically to provide comfort and friendship as many of our colleagues make this transition.
We had hoped the salary reductions we all took would be sufficient, but at this point we must take this additional step to ensure the ongoing financial stability of UTA. Although we are not the first company to do this, and will not be the last, it is still extraordinarily difficult because we work so hard to protect and nurture our culture at UTA.
For those impacted, you are not alone in this. UTA will continue to provide your health benefits, including covering your premiums, along with other resources, information and ongoing support. Beyond that, we will work hard to keep you connected to UTA, including access to internal programs and communicating with you as much as possible during the furlough period. Our hope is that we will be back to a new normal soon, and that it will include opportunities for all of you to return. Until then, you are in our thoughts and hearts.
I have so much pride in our company, our colleagues and our culture. Someday soon, UTA will again be brimming with laughter, smiles, and energy.
Until then, let’s stay strong and support each other.
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