An estimated 120,000 below-the-line entertainment industry jobs have been lost due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
That number represents about 80% of the 150,000 members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, according to the IATSE. Leaders of the International Cinematographers Guild, which has about 9,000 members and operates as IATSE Local 600, made the disclosure about the IATSE estimate in a message to members as part of its most recent weekly newsletter.
“By the time you have finished reading this weekly, the circumstances we find ourselves in will have already changed,” the message said. “We are writing to tell you what we know at this moment and what we are working on at your local as our industry joins the world in shutting down and workers and their families are left wondering about their futures. The IATSE reports that the pandemic shutdown has resulted in the loss of 120,000 jobs held by its 150,000 members. It is critical that our industry be included in pending federal relief package.”
The message was signed by ICG national president John Lindley, national executive director Rebecca Rhine, and 10 other officers and executives. It painted a bleak outlook for the immediate future.
“Although some of our members are being paid for up to two weeks after their shows shut down, based upon the reality of the health care crisis we now face, it is highly unlikely that productions will resume after so short a period of time,” the message said. “This problem is likely to continue for months, not weeks, and our concerns about health, benefits and economic stability are shared by the entire membership. Your health and safety and the well-being of your families are paramount to us.”
“You have many questions about your benefit hours and the ability of the plans, both active and retiree, to withstand a period of diminished contributions and an uncertain investment environment. It is important to note that both plans currently have months of reserves and are not threatened at this moment.”
The leaders said the next step will be for the labor and management trustees of the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan to meet and look for methods to help plan participants.
“To ensure the safety of our employees and their families, all our regional offices have closed or are minimally staffed,” the leaders said. “Transitioning our entire organization to work remotely is complex and will take some time to work out, but the staff is on it full time. Every action taken serves the goal of reducing transmission, protecting the health care system from collapse and giving medical professionals and researchers the time they need to identify and implement measures that reduce the devastation.”