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IATSE President Asks for Government Relief Amid Coronavirus Shutdown

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees represents below-the-line craftspeople, many of whom are left without work.

Matthew D. Loeb22nd Annual Art Directors Guild Awards Gala, Show, Los Angeles, USA - 27 Jan 2018

Matthew D. Loeb

Stewart Cook/Shutterstock

Matt Loeb, the president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees representing below-the-line craftspeople, has called upon the federal government to dispense an emergency relief fund to aid the thousands of entertainment industry workers who’ve found themselves now without work amid shutdowns and postponements caused by coronavirus concerns.

“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,” he said in a statement (per Deadline).

As many industry workers on halted productions are left uncertain during the hiatus, Loeb is asking the federal government to extend unemployment benefits, disability, and workers compensation, and offer emergency paid leave for employees who’ve now lost jobs in film, television, and theater around the country.

Loeb’s statement continued, “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.

“But this isn’t just about us. 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,” he said.

“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.”

Finally, Loeb stressed that “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.”

Over the weekend, the House of Representatives passed emergency legislation that will be addressed by the Senate this week. Congressman Adam Schiff tweeted, “The House passed legislation to respond to the health and economic crisis…This is just a first step. I represent thousands in the entertainment industry who have lost their jobs, but may not qualify for unemployment insurance. More will be needed for Americans, everywhere.” (See below.)

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