The Motion Picture Industry Pension & Health Plans (MPIPHP) have taken several steps to aid below-the-line workers in the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
After a unanimous vote by the MPIPHP board of directors, Cathy Repola, national executive director of IATSE Local 700, sent out a letter to its members saying new initiatives had been implemented.
The initiatives come after thousands of entertainment industry workers are left without jobs as studios halt production on TV and film projects due to the coronavirus pandemic. More than 3.3. million workers in general have filed for unemployment benefits.
The first initiative was the one-time waiver “of next quarter’s premium co-pays for active participants.” The MPIPHP also voted to allow members a one-time withdrawal from their pensions.
The document stipulated that participants have to apply for the “hardship withdrawal” between May 1 and July 31.
Repola noted that while the initiatives were a good option to have, she cautioned, “you will be withdrawing money that was contributed by your employers to afford you a significant retirement benefit. Please do not make this decision lightly as your IAP is a retirement benefit that will provide you with retirement income that you may not be able to duplicate otherwise.”
Additional initiatives included early prescription refills being made available where members can get up to a 90-day supply of prescription medications.
Optum Behavioral Health Solutions has also been made available to IATSE members. Its services offering a free emotional-support helpline for all people who have been impacted by the coronavirus.