COVID-19: entertainment workers should not be colateral damage, says IATSE

It’s not just NAB or SWSX being cancelled. TV shows halted or delayed, film premieres postponed, the whole industry is suffering the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, with millions of jobs in danger.

COVID-19: entertainment workers should not be colateral damage, says IATSE

The presidents of both IATSE and MPTF aim to help the entertainment industry professionals survive through what is one of the worst crisis of an industry whose workers can not work from home.

That special film you want to watch or the next episode of your favorite TV series may be delayed, because productions are grinding to a halt, but the worst part of the story is that thousands of people are being forced out of work, many without pay. Think about this when you sit comfortably at home, in front of your TV set.

Job losses across the United States are growing and economists worry more layoffs are coming as businesses see plummeting sales, writes The Washginton Post. The entertainment industry is also  being severely affected, with tens of productions being halted, both in TV and film, theaters being closed, all around the world, and a variety of sectors of the entertainment industry are suffering financial hardship due to the situation.

The Motion Picture & Television Fund is ready to help those in the industry in need of medical, financial and emotional assistance, writes the Deadline, citing MPTF president and CEO Bob Beitcher, who said in a message to the industry “Nearly 100 years ago, one of our founders, Mary Pickford, said about MPTF, ‘We see a need and we fill it.’ The same is true today. MPTF remains fully committed to its mission of helping our entertainment community in their time of need.”

COVID-19: entertainment workers should not be colateral damage, says IATSE

Our “new abnormal”

“The need we see today,” he added, “is supporting those members of our industry workforce who are undergoing hardship due to COVID-19 related issues – productions getting shut down or pushed back, staffs being trimmed as companies anticipate financial downturns from our ‘new abnormal.’ We have been at this place before during the 2007-2008 work stoppage and supported 630 industry members with financial assistance and case management in a challenging time. Thanks to the generosity of our community, MPTF is still here for you today.

Another effort to help the industry professionals comes from IATSE, whose International President, Matthew D. Loeb, calls on Congress to pass relief package that includes displaced entertainment workers. He said: “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.”

“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.”


COVID-19: entertainment workers should not be colateral damage, says IATSE

An alliance started in 1893

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada was founded in 1893 when representatives of stagehands working in eleven cities met in New York and pledged to support each others’ efforts to establish fair wages and working conditions for their members. This  union has evolved to embrace the development of new entertainment mediums, craft expansion, technological innovation and geographic growth.

Today, its members work in all forms of live theater, motion picture and television production, trade shows and exhibitions, television broadcasting, and concerts as well as the equipment and construction shops that support all these areas of the entertainment industry. The IATSE represents virtually all the behind-the-scenes workers in crafts ranging from motion picture animator to theater usher.

COVID-19: entertainment workers should not be colateral damage, says IATSE

An urgent relief package

It’s that huge number of professionals that the IATSE wants protected. “But this isn’t just about us” says Matthew D. Loeb, as “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.” he said.

“It is vital 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.” added Matthew D. Loeb, International President of the IATSE.

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Journalist, writer and photographer since 1979, both print and online, with a vast experience in the fields of photography, software, hardware, web, aviation, History, video games, technology, having published content in almost all Portuguese newspapers…