LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – With nearly all television and film production shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak, local politicians are urging Congress to step in and provide financial relief to thousands of entertainment industry workers who suddenly find themselves without a paycheck for the foreseeable future.
According to a report in Variety Wednesday, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) revealed 120,000 of its members had lost jobs.
The IATSE has about 150,000 members who work in all aspects of film and TV production, running the gamut from editors, camera operators, set painters, craft service workers, animators and technicians.
Most of them are freelance and contract workers.
U.S. Rep Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Thursday, urging her to include entertainment workers in any new relief legislation.
“We urge you to include protections for freelance and contract workers in the entertainment industry who have lost work because of coronavirus-related cancellations or postponements,” Schiff wrote Thursday. “For every worker or performer on stage or in front of the camera, there are dozens more who make their living in this industry—an industry in crisis, with virtually every workplace in the country shut down over the past week.”
Last week, President Trump signed an $8.3 billion emergency response package, followed by a second relief bill on Wednesday – called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act — estimated at more than $100 billion. Neither bill specifically addressed the entertainment industry.
In a news release Thursday, the IATSCE said its “members and allies” have written more than 80,000 letters to Congressional members echoing Schiff’s request. The IATSCE said the FFCRA won’t necessarily help entertainment workers.
“Although the bipartisan Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) will provide relief to workers in other industries, the provisions on the table for emergency paid leave benefits won’t apply to displaced entertainment workers because of the requirements for days worked on a job to qualify,” the IATSCE wrote.
Earlier this week, major theater chains AMC and Regal shut down all their theaters, while studios have been forced to push back the release dates of several major films, including “Fast 9,” “Black Widow,” “A Quiet Place: Part II,” the latest Bond movie “No Time To Die” and “Mulan.”