IATSE international president Matt Loeb today called on the Senate to scrap the Republican-backed HEALS Act and instead pass the House Democrats’ HEROES Act.
The Dems’ bill would extend the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit through the end of the year for those left out of work by the pandemic, while the GOP bill would slash those payments to just $200 a week.
The union, which has said that 90%-95% of its 150,000 members were left jobless by the pandemic, called the HEALS Act a “brazen political stunt” that is “risking the livelihoods of thousands of displaced entertainment workers who are relying on the $600 weekly federal supplement to state unemployment benefits to sustain them until a safe return to work is possible.”
Loeb said in a statement:
“The HEALS Act as currently drafted is woefully inadequate in addressing the needs of entertainment workers in the ongoing health crisis. The proposed reduction in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation to $200 per week for two months is strikingly insufficient for IATSE members to make ends meet, as the entertainment industry will continue to be disproportionately impacted by this pandemic for the foreseeable future.
“While seeking to reduce unemployment benefits for workers, Senate Republicans have conversely seen fit in this bill to expand access to federal economic support for chambers of commerce but continue to exclude nonprofit labor unions from eligibility for the same relief.
“Unlike the HEROES Act, the HEALS Act is alarmingly silent on a federal COBRA subsidy to keep working families insured on their job-based healthcare plan; it lacks any economic relief for pension plans affected by the pandemic, and it ignores the need for an OSHA emergency temporary standard to protect those going back to work.
“IATSE calls on the Senate to dismiss this legislative draft outright and begin negotiations on the House-passed HEROES Act which will provide the federal relief that working families across the country require.”
In May, IATSE’s general executive board voted unanimously to endorse Joe Biden for president, saying that he “presents a stark and undeniable contrast from the current administration with regard to leadership and support for working people.”
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