For Immediate release: March 19th, 2020
New York, NY — IATSE announced Wednesday that members and allies have sent over 80,000 letters over two days to Congress urging lawmakers to include displaced entertainment workers in a federal aid package. A related letter drafted by Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-28) is being circulated on Capitol Hill and has an ever-growing list of Congressional supporters.
With productions cancelled across all sectors of the entertainment industry, the COVID-19 situation has become so dire for entertainment workers that it requires decisive action from the federal government. Entertainment gig workers who expected to work for a day, week, month, or season on a production are finding themselves without planned wages and benefits. IATSE is working tirelessly to ensure that any economic relief package allows hundreds of thousands of entertainment families across the country to continue to pay rent, put food on the table, and care for their children despite the public health emergency.
Although the bipartisan Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) will provide relief to workers in other industries, the provisions on the table for emergency paid leave benefits won’t apply to displaced entertainment workers because of the requirements for days worked on a job to qualify.
The unique nature of the entertainment industry means that many of the creative professionals may not work every day, or even every month. Existing paid leave programs are by and large not applicable to this workforce. Entertainment workers depend on the income from each project they book to ensure they can support themselves and can qualify to participate in our collectively bargained health plans. Rules designed specifically for the traditional single employer relationship, or even for multi-employer work in the construction industry are likely to exclude our members, and entertainment freelancers in general.
Entertainment workers shouldn’t be collateral damage in the fight against COVID-19.