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More than 120,000 IATSE jobs are estimated to have already been lost since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, according to individual correspondences that the International Cinematographers Guild (Local 600) and Motion Picture Editors Guild (Local 700) sent out to members.
“This is a devastating time for the entire IA family,” MPEG national executive director Cathy Repola wrote Wednesday in a message, which also stated that IATSE “has been successful at securing a standardized two weeks of pay from our more responsible employers. The IA intends to address those employers who are not following suit.”
The ICG letter, signed by its officers, including newly elected president John Lindley, noted that “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. 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.”
The guild also added that its benefit plans “currently have months of reserves and are not threatened at this moment.”
Both ICG and MPEG also pointed out that the Motion Picture and Television Fund and The Actor’s Fund are prepared to provide financial assistance. On Tuesday, IATSE announced $2.5 million in new charitable donations to both groups, as well as to the Actors Fund of Canada.
Still, all of this may not match the need.
In response, IATSE international president Matthew D. Loeb this week urged Congress to include displaced entertainment workers in a relief package and asking members to sign this online petition.
“As social distancing measures are enacted and events and projects across all sectors of the entertainment industry are cancelled, it’s become clear that the COVID-19 crisis requires decisive action from our Federal Government to support displaced entertainment workers,” he wrote. “Right now, thousands of our members across all sectors of the entertainment industry are suffering financial hardship because of government mandated cancellations. Entertainment workers shouldn’t be collateral damage in the fight against the COVID-19 virus.”
Wednesday’s MPEG letter also urged members to fill out a short IATSE survey if they have been laid off, put on hiatus or had a start dated pushed back. “We need to provide this information to the IATSE,” said Repola in the message to members.
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