COVID-19 Safety & Health Training Is Key Element In Film & TV Industry’s Return-To-Work Protocols

coronavirus doctor
A doctor attends to a coronavirus patient in the ICU AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko

Hollywood’s new return-to-work agreement calls for COVID-19 health and safety training for all employees working on film and television productions – a program that is still in development. Until the training program becomes effective, the agreement states that “employees shall be required to undergo COVID-19 health and safety protocol training developed by each Producer before commencing work.”

The long-awaited agreement was reached Monday between management’s AMPTP and Hollywood’s guilds and unions – SAG-AFTRA, the DGA, IATSE, the Teamsters and the Basic Crafts unions.

The COVID-19 training program will be developed by the Contract Services Administration Trust Fund, the IATSE Training Trust Fund, the Directors Guild-Producer Training Plan and the New York Assistant Directors Training Program, in consultation with the Industry-Wide Joint Labor-Management Safety Committee “consistent with the usual process for developing safety training programs.” The Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee has been issuing safety bulletins for decades, and its Task Force issued its own return-to work protocols in a “white paper” on June 1.

CSATF already administers some 30 safety and sexual harassment training courses, including the Safety Pass program, which ensures that workers employed by industry employers meet industry safety standards and regulations set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Cal/OSHA and other government agencies. CSATF’s website, however, notes that its in-person training has been temporarily suspended “as a precaution against COVID-19,” although on-line training has continued throughout the pandemic.

See the full back-to-work agreement here.

The agreement between the companies and the unions says that “when the COVID-19 Training has been developed, successful completion of such training shall be a condition of employment for all employees. An employee employed in a classification for which a roster or Qualification List exists must complete such COVID-19 Training no later than 60 days following the execution of this Agreement as a requirement for continued placement on the roster or Qualification List.”

CSATF administers the Industry Experience Roster, which encompasses more than 125 job classifications represented by more than a dozen IATSE and Basic Crafts unions, including the Cinematographers Guild, the Editors Guild, the Art Directors Guild, Teamsters Local 399, and IATSE Prop Local 44, Grips Local 80, Sound Local 695, Costumers Local 705, Make-Up & Hair Stylists Local 706, Electrical Lighting Technicians Local 728, Set Painters Local 729 and Script Supervisors Local 871.

The new agreement notes that the COVID-19 Training program “shall be updated from time to time as necessary to reflect changes in circumstances, such as scientific developments or agreed changes to protocols in this Agreement. Any updates may be distributed to those who have already taken the COVID-19 Training via bulletins or briefings at daily safety meetings.”

It also notes that “each employee who takes the COVID19 Training shall be paid a stipend of $20 for each hour that he or she attends such training outside of his or her employment, unless the employee is otherwise already being paid for the day (e.g., payment of a travel allowance to a performer or payment for a travel day to a member of the crew). No stipend is due if a series contract performer takes training on a day within his/her span.”

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