The figures come as over 3.3 million Americans have lost their jobs and filed for unemployment benefits.
In an email to Variety Monday, director of communications Jonas Loeb said, “Estimates are that 90-95% of our members are not working as a result of Covid-19 related social distancing measures.” With 150,000 members, that figure would represent upwards of 135,000 people.
Loeb also announced IATSE’s mutual aid program, Coronavirus Active Response and Engagement Service (C.A.R.E.S.). The initiative at iatsecares.org facilitates volunteer deliveries for at-risk members such as the elderly, and/or disabled members during the crisis. Part of the initiative features a buddy system where volunteers can check in with other members by phone.
“We’ve had over 1,000 members already commit to volunteering just days after the launch of the website,” said Loeb. He added that C.A.R.E.S. is part of a larger campaign to organize mutual aid efforts both inside and outside of the union.
On Friday, the $2 trillion economic stimulus bill known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security was passed “CARES” Act, which included entertainment freelance or gig workers.
IATSE members and allies had earlier sent 107,000 letters to Congress in a plea for entertainment workers to be included in the bill.
The bill provides an additional $600 per week payment to each recipient of unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for up to four months. It also provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits to help those who remain unemployed after weeks of state unemployment are no longer available.
Furthermore, the CARES act included funding towards federal arts of up to $75 million each for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Corporation for Public Broadcasting for grants to assist arts nonprofits and other employers in financing projects and performances.