As the coronavirus continues to spread, cancellations of live events and the shuttering of productions on TV and film sets have become widespread. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) estimates that about 80 percent of its 150,000 members are now without work, according to Deadline.
The outlet reports that the organization’s General Executive Board approved a $2.5 million donations package to three entertainment charities, but many believe this will not be enough to bring noticeable relief to the industry.
Variety reports that the International Cinematographers Guild (ICG), which comprises about 9,000 members and operates as IATSE Local 600, disclosed the job loss numbers in a recent newsletter to members in which it also called for federal support.
“By the time you have finished reading this weekly, the circumstances we find ourselves in will have already changed,” the message reportedly 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.”
Representatives for the ICG did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment.
Currently, the Trump administration is looking into several federal stimulus options that could help alleviate the burden that the coronavirus measures have had on workers in the country. However, plans are reportedly taking the form of tax relief measures.
Variety reports that ICG national president John Lindley, national executive director Rebecca Rhine and 10 other officers and executives signed the message, which went on to paint a less-than-optimistic picture about the state of these workers’ prospects going forward.
“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.”
The message continues: “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 group is even asking its members to send letters calling on Congress to include the entertainment industry in its relief package.
“Entertainment workers shouldn’t be collateral damage in the fight against COVID-19. We need a special Emergency Coronavirus Economic Support Benefit geared to include workers who have a bona fide, good faith offer to work that gets canceled due to the coronavirus,” the form letter reads in part.
The newsletter concluded with a note about how the organization is currently protecting the health of its members by transitioning to a mostly remote operation.
“To ensure the safety of our employees and their families, all our regional offices have closed or are minimally staffed,” the note ended. “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.”