SAG-AFTRA urged its members today to call and write their US senators to demand a crucial relief package for the thousands of entertainment industry workers who have been suddenly left unemployed by the coronavirus shutdown. “Many arts and entertainment professionals may only qualify for lower traditional leave and unemployment benefits due to the unique nature of your work,” the union says on its website. “It’s urgent to let your senators know TODAY not to leave you behind and provide you with economic support! Please call your senators now by dialing (202) 224-3121.”
Congress is currently considering a multi-trillion dollar aid package, but SAG-AFTRA says that “Most arts and entertainment professionals are not adequately helped by state unemployment insurance benefits and do not qualify for the newly available COVID-19 related paid leave.”
SAG-AFTRA has also provided a template for members to use when writing to their senators to press their demands. “I am writing to request your office support emergency relief protection for media workers to include those of us who are employee-classified, non-traditional workers with sporadic employment patterns and multiple employers in one year. Also to include independent contractors and freelance workers when considering benefits.
“The entertainment industry is in crisis due to the devastating loss of employment in motion picture, television and live performance production. American arts and media workers are being sent home, not knowing when or if production will resume.
“State unemployment insurance benefits can provide some relief but local, state, and federal governments must do more to get money into the hands of displaced workers. We urge you to fight for as much flexibility for the states when it comes to unemployment insurance guidelines for our unique workforce. Thank you for reading my message. We ask you to work with my union, SAG-AFTRA, which is deeply engaged in advocating for relief legislation.”