8:37am PT by Carolyn Giardina
IATSE Offers President Biden Its Members' Services to Build Vaccination Sites
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees sent a letter to President Biden on Monday, offering the White House COVID Response Team and FEMA the labor union's infrastructure and members to contribute to building or converting vaccination sites across the country.
"Together, we have a unique opportunity not only to help beat this virus and save lives, but also to get these skilled union technicians back to work. Let’s build back better, together," wrote IATSE international president Matthew D. Loeb. The union represents below the line workers including stagehands, certified riggers and other craftspeople who work in conference centers, arenas, theaters and other live events venues.
"As you know, these workers have been unable to return to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they stand ready to do their part when they are called upon," the letter from Loeb reads. "IATSE workers throughout the country have been working alongside the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA in arenas and convention centers for years in disaster response situations, and in April we helped convert numerous facilities into field hospitals in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The skills required to convert these facilities are not much different than those required to load in rock and roll concerts and other live events. Working with the field hospital installations designed by the Army Corps of Engineers, the IATSE and its contractors can typically pre-install the rigging, lights and electric, quickly and efficiently."
In the letter, he wrote that IATSE Locals had already developed pre-designed rigs based on venue size. Wrote Loeb, "The equipment can be power washed, sanitized, shrink-wrapped and can be delivered to locations for installation."