IATSE president Matt Loeb is calling on the federal government to enact “emergency relief” for the thousands of entertainment industry workers who have suddenly found themselves without jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Specifically, he’s calling for new measures that would ensure the continuity of health benefits; enhance and extend unemployment, disability, and workers compensation benefits, and provide emergency paid leave for industry workers whose jobs have disappeared virtually overnight as film, TV, and theater productions have shuttered all across the country.
“As social distancing measures are enacted and events and projects across all sectors of the entertainment industry are cancelled, it’s become clear that the COVID-19 crisis requires decisive action from our federal government to support displaced entertainment workers,” he said in a statement.
“Right now, thousands of our members across all sectors of the entertainment industry are suffering financial hardship because of government mandated cancellations. Entertainment workers shouldn’t be collateral damage in the fight against the COVID-19 virus.”
“But this isn’t just about us,” he said. “Economic studies demonstrate that entertainment spending reverberates throughout our communities nationwide. Film and television production alone injects $49 billion into local businesses per year, and the overall entertainment industry supports 2.1 million jobs in municipal and state economies.
“Along with the other entertainment unions and the labor movement at large, we call on the federal government to pass a relief package that prioritizes workers whose incomes have been lost as a result of this crisis. Strong measures like ensuring continuity of health benefits, providing enhanced and extended unemployment, disability, and workers compensation insurance are necessary for ensuring the financial stability of entertainment workers and their families. Additionally, the government should enact a special emergency paid leave benefit geared to include our members.”
“It is vital,” he said, “that these measures are enacted as soon as possible to provide effective emergency relief for workers who have felt the economic consequences of the Coronavirus the hardest.”
Emergency legislation passed by the House of Representatives on Saturday is expected to be taken up by the Senate later this week. “The House passed legislation to respond to the health and economic crisis,” tweeted Congressman Adam Schiff, whose district includes West Hollywood. “This is just a first step. I represent thousands in the entertainment industry who have lost their jobs, but may not qualify for unemployment insurance. More will be needed for Americans, everywhere.”