For the time being, at least, a truce has been called in the Innovative Artists healthcare debacle.
In a conference call Tuesday, agency prexy Scott Harris reversed his decision to deny health benefits to non-contracted support staff. Harris, who is in Germany for knee surgery, told staffers that they would be covered under the Cobra plan until he could decide on a permanent program.
The removal of coverage, announced last week, affected some 70 people and was retroactive to June 1. Employees threatened a sick-out Monday in protest; only a small handful participated. Scott’s offer came in response to a letter sent by disgruntled workers.
“We met at lunch yesterday and drafted a letter to Scott and the department heads in L.A. and New York expressing that we would like our medical benefits back,” a source within the agency told Daily Variety. “Also that it’s unfair to say we don’t need benefits because we’re young (Scott had offered that among reasons to stop coverage), and it’s unfair to deny us coverage flat out. We appreciated it was a tough decision for him to make, but we’d rather keep our coverage than get the small raise he mentioned.”
In part, the missive stated that “non-contracted employees are not the only workers upset by this issue. Presently, several agents have offered to share salaries with their assistants to help compensate for our loss of benefits, several outside employers have solicited our services for rival companies, and most assistants are questioning their rationale for continuing to work at Innovative.”
The source said that Innovative agents, whose benefits were unaffected, had spoken to Scott in favor of the reinstatement.
Complaints of lower-level staffers also included lack of overtime payment, which Scott did not address, but the source noted that employees did receive free bagels every Wednesday.
Though they’ve seen “nothing in writing,” the mood within the company “is better,” the source stated. “People are happy that we won a small battle, and hopefully things will continue to get better. We know it was a big step for him to do this. And now there won’t be a boycott on bagel day.”