The head of the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees has called for the federal government to provide relief for entertainment industry workers displaced by the coronavirus pandemic.
Matthew D. Loeb, international president of the IATSE, made the announcement Friday. IATSE represents more than 140,000 below-the-line workers in the entertainment industry in North America.
“As social distancing measures are enacted and events and projects across all sectors of the entertainment industry are canceled, it’s become clear that the COVID-19 crisis requires decisive action from our Federal Government to support displaced entertainment workers,” Loeb said.
“Right now, thousands of our members across all sectors of the entertainment industry are suffering financial hardship because of government mandated cancellations,” he said. “Entertainment workers shouldn’t be collateral damage in the fight against the COVID-19 virus.”
Loeb said the crisis has a far larger impact than the affected workers in the entertainment industry.
“Economic studies demonstrate that entertainment spending reverberates throughout our communities nationwide,” he said. “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.”
“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,” Loeb added. “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.”
Loeb also urged the government to enact a special emergency paid leave benefit geared to IATSE members.
“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,” he concluded.