COVID-19: Important Updates, Reminders–Week 1

COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS:
Important Updates, Reminders & Week #1 Recap

March 21, 2020
by Randy Sayer, Business Representative

I.A.T.S.E.  706  COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS:  Updates, Reminders & the Week’s Recap of Important Information

This past week has been unlike any week in American history – certainly in our lifetimes; our society – as we know it – has been upended.  This is 9/11, the 2008 Writer’s Guild Strike, the Flu epidemic of 1918 and the Polio epidemic of the 40’s – all rolled into one crisis.  However, we will get through this – but we will get through this TOGETHER.

Our Number One concern is the physical health or our Members.  Everyone must follow the ‘Safer At Home’ guidelines issued by Governor Newsom here in California, and follow all instructions provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and state and local leaders: stay home, wash hands, avoid gatherings, maintain physical distance from others, go out for groceries / necessities once a week– and if you are sick do not go out in public.  These measures – though they may seem extreme – are truly the only way for our State and Local Communities to get a handle on this virus. We must “flatten the curve” of those infected daily so we do not overwhelm our entire healthcare system, and more importantly help the heroes on the front lines – all those health care workers and first responders that are working to protect and serve our communities.  At this time, things may seem uncertain; confusing and frustrating; but I truly believe that if we continue to fight this together, we will come out on top.

Second, we are concerned about our Members’ emotional well-being and mental health – which can directly impact our physical health.  As we physically distance ourselves from our co-workers, family and friends, we have to make sure that we are not isolating ourselves socially.   Talk on the phone!  Chat via text, FaceTime or Skype!  Interact via Social Media!  Share ideas, pictures and stories!  Swap recipes! Communicate.  Let go of the things we cannot control…

Members with depression, addiction or compulsive behavior issues must take extra precautions.  Anxiety, fear and ‘upheaval’ can trigger these issues – even in Members who have had a handle on these behaviors for years or decades.  Work your program(s), talk with your sponsors and/or Members with similar issues, seek professional counseling online; contract our MPIPHP Optumprograms for assistance.

Third, we are all concerned about our financial health.  Please: do not allow your fears of debts and mounting financial responsibilities in the coming week(s) or month(s) impact your physical or mental health!  Rent / the mortgage, the car note, your Union dues are all coming due on April 1; no one is working, and no one has six months of earnings saved up (and if you do; awesome!).  We are all in the same boat!  Please contact your creditors and financial institutions now and alert them that you “have lost your employment and income as a direct result of the COVID-19 Coronavirus”.   This is the language that you have to use when asking to delay your monthly payments; simply explaining that you “are currently unemployed” is not enough…   Your Union Local’s “30-day grace period” is in full effect – and will be re-examined 30-, 60- and 90-days from the end of next month.   Your Union Local will “be doing a lot of forgiving…” once the restrictions are lifted and productions come back / work becomes plentiful in the State – but these precautions and guidelines will likely be in place for longer than we now expect.

Below is an update from this week that also addresses some commonly asked questions and concerns.  Starting next week, we will be looking to providing updates from myself, President Julie Socash, our Officers and our staff!  Stay tuned for further details…

  • Union Office:The IATSE Local 706Offices in Burbank will remain closed to Members and the General Public throughout April 19 – or until the ‘Safer At Home’ Guidelines and restrictions are relaxed.  The Business Representative, the two Assistant Business Representatives, and some of our office staff will be working remotely.
  • I am in communication with our International General Office and the IA West Coast Office– including our International President Matthew Loeb and Vice-Presidents (both offices are now closed; all are working remotely), our Sister Hollywood Locals, as well as the other Unions and Guilds within our Industry. We all believe that the Entertainment Industry – including our own hardworking Members – must not be forgotten in the economic relief packages that are currently being discussed in congress. We are grateful to Congressman Adam Schiffwho is leading the charge to help fight on behalf of Entertainment Industry Workers working in Film, Television, Commercials, Live Events and Live Music.

TAKE ACTION:   If you haven’t already, please sign this Petition created by IATSE International President Matthew Loeb; 100,000+ Strong!

Click here or below to make your voice heard.

  • PLEASE READ THE LETTERthat was sent by Congressman Adam Schiffas well as 36 other representatives that have heard our voices and are now urging their colleagues to include support for entertainment workers in any economic relief package. Click here to read.
  • ENTERTAINMENT UNION COALITION:  IATSE Political Director Tyler McIntosh,in conjunction with the Entertainment Union Coalition(Teamsters Local 399, IATSE, SAG-AFTRA, & the Laborers), has been putting pressure on a State and National level to fight on behalf of our Members and has submitted a letter to Governor Gavin Newsomand House Speaker Nancy Pelosi explaining the uniqueness of our Industry. We have proposed a special Emergency Coronavirus Economic Support Benefit geared to include “our Members who have a completed contract or a bona fide, good faith offer to work, and the production has been postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus“. We will be providing updates as this effort continues.
    • Please be ready to take action if we need to call on Members for support!
  • STUDIOS:  Our International Vice-Presidents and the Business Representatives of all of the “Hollywood Locals” have been working closely with the Studios and Companies to find ways to further represent and inform our Members. As we mentioned earlier this week, some Productions made the decision to continue to pay their Crews for at least two weeks / the end of March. We are working to expand that list of those that will commit to at least two weeks, or more, for our Members.
    • In exciting news, The A.T.S.E. has donated $2.5 Millionto theMotion Picture Television Fund (MPTF), the Actors Fundandthe Actors Fund Canadato assist our Members during this time of crisis. Netflix just pledged to donate $100 Millionin relief to the out-of-work Entertainment Community devastated by this crisis. The money will go to those involved in halted Netflix productions as well as third parties and non-profits providing emergency relief including the Motion Picture Television Fundand the Actors Fund.  We will continue to demand that all Companies take care of our Members.
      • If you are in need of immediate financial assistanceI again encourage you to reach out to the Motion Picture Television Fund or The Actor’s Fund to see what services are available to you.
    • Any / all out-of-work or “laid off” Members not getting paid should apply for Unemployment. Roster (Journeyman, Trainee or Commercial) Make-up Artists or Hair Stylists having difficulties filing for their EDD Unemploymentor Disability Insurance should contact Polly at plucke@ialocal706.org; she can send you a Powerpoint presentation that will walk you through the process!

 

Benefits for Workers Impacted by COVID-19

Please visit the California Employment Development Department for more information regarding employment benefits for those impacted by COVID-19, Here.

For Any Questions or Conerns Please Call Our District Office at (818) 409-0400

See full chart here.

  • Our Motion Picture Industry Pension & Health Plans (MPIPHP):Many of you have voiced your concerns about your health benefits and contribution hours. I want you to know that we have had many discussions this week with our International, MPIPHP and theAlliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP)surrounding this situation and protecting our Members. I hope to have updates for you in the coming week(s) regarding what steps are being taken.  CLICK THE LINK BELOW for Coronavirus updates:

https://www.mpiphp.org/assets/files/MPI_Coronavirus_Update_FNL.pdf

Our Theater, Regional and Network Television Members utilizing the Flex Plan:
Please click
to access important COVID-19 Coronavirus updates to your Plan.   

  • However, I do not want fears about our future finances to impact the most important issues facing us: our current physical health and safety and our emotional / mental well-being. Our job right now is: Get through this! 
  • At this time, MPI is:
    • Ensuring No Out-of-Pocket Costs for COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing
    • Providing Early Prescription Refills
    • Keeping patients safe by requiring an appointment to visit MPI’s Office
    • Reminding Members of the “Telemedicine Benefit” to discuss with a Medical Professional in the comfort of your own home. Contact MPIPHP for more information: (855)-275-4674.
    • Please remember you can always check your bank of hours with MPIPHP on their website 
  • Contract Services (CSATF):Many Members have questions about CSATFand what we are required do at this time now that CSATF has closed their offices as of Saturday, March 14th. We will be providing aCSATF-specific update next week regarding: Safety Pass and classifications contractual classes.  The ‘Journeyman Classes’scheduled for March and April have been postponed until further notice.
    REMINDER:  NOW is an excellent time to go online and complete all necessary CSATF Classes: our Harassment Prevention (HR),General Safety (A), Environmental Safety (A2), Respiratory Protection (I) and Hazard Communication (P).

Internally we are looking to set up some sort of video conferencing to provide updates and answer questions from Members in the coming weeks / month(s).   Your President Julie Socash, Secretary Treasurer John Jacksonand I want to thank you all for your support this week. We have appreciated all of the calls, emails and questions from our Members. We are in this together. We all work for you and we are here to assist you and to continue to fight on your behalf. Please let us know if you feel there is more that we can be doing at this time. 

Stay “Safer at Home”

Follow the guidelines being released daily by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), California Governor Gavin Newsom, and Mayor Garcetti here in Los Angeles; they have YOUR best interests and the Public Health as the reason for each and every decision they make.  Please contact your Business Representative Randy Sayer, Roster Business Representative Polly Lucke, and Theater Business Representative Patrice K. Madrigal with your questions and concerns.  Your physical health, emotional well-being, and financial issues are OUR main concern.    

We WILL get through this, but we will get through it TOGETHER.