We want to start by saying we hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy during this incredibly challenging time. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our lives and effectively shut down work for so many of us. Please know that through all of this, the union’s core functions, including residuals processing and contract enforcement, continue. In March alone we processed 312,000 residuals checks totaling $73 million.
We are writing today with news of relief efforts from our union, the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan, the federal government, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation and SAG-AFTRA Motion Picture Players Welfare Fund.
After examining every conceivable method of supporting our members, the SAG-AFTRA Executive Committee unanimously approved targeted relief for members in the form of a deadline extension. The May dues bills will be mailed as usual, and those who are able to pay on time are encouraged to do so. However, late fees will be waived for this dues period, and there will be no adverse impact on members’ work eligibility throughout the May 2020 semi-annual dues period, regardless of paid-up status.
Members who request a due-date extension because of financial hardship will be able to pay their May dues in two equal installments due July 1 and Oct. 1. There is no action needed at this time and you can decide to delay your dues payment or not once you receive your May bill in the coming weeks.
The funding from dues keeps our union operating, allowing SAG-AFTRA to continue working on your behalf, processing residuals payments, negotiating contracts, monitoring the safety of our broadcasters, and lobbying elected leaders to ensure relief bills include crucial help for our members.
HEALTH PLAN RELIEF
The SAG-AFTRA Health Plan has announced it is temporarily reducing premiums by 50% during the second quarter (April, May and June), for all eligible Plan I, Plan II and COBRA participants covered by the Plan as of March 1, 2020. This change is effective on April 1, 2020. And you can find out more about that relief effort here.
COVID-19 RELIEF FUND
The SAG-AFTRA Foundation and SAG-AFTRA Motion Picture Players Welfare Fund have created the COVID-19 Relief Fund that is now available to eligible SAG-AFTRA members who have been impacted by this pandemic.
The Fund covers members who are in an emergency financial crisis related to COVID-19 to cover basic expenses such as rent, mortgage, utilities, medical bills and other essential needs
STIMULUS CHECK & UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE
As you have likely heard, lawmakers in Washington finalized passage of the $2.2 trillion relief bill, called the CARES Act. This is the bill that your union’s government affairs staff helped shape in concert with our allies in Congress so SAG-AFTRA members would not be left behind.
While the legislation isn’t perfect, we applaud the Senate and House for their passage of the CARES Act, which provides much needed economic relief to so many Americans, including many SAG-AFTRA members and their families. We want to thank our member advocates and our congressional allies for their work on this critical legislation.
Some highlights of the Act include:
- Directs $1,200 payments to heads of households earning up to $112,500 or other individuals earning up to $75,000 per year
- Directs $2,400 payments to married couples earning up to $150,000 per year and sends payment of $500 for each child 16 and under
- Extends unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks, and increases the maximum unemployment benefit by $600 per week through July 31
- Provides Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits to those who would not normally qualify under state law, including the self-employed and independent contractors
- Increases funding by $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts and $75 million for the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities
- Increases funding by $75 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
- Establishes forgivable loans for small businesses and nonprofits, so that they can continue to operate
In conversations about the legislation, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi noted that it is our members that people are finding comfort and relief from when sequestered at home. They are finding comfort in our movies, TV shows, music and news. It is our broadcast members who are on the front lines with first responders reporting the news and keeping our country informed. She acknowledged that fact and added that it will be our members when this pandemic is over that will inspire and give hope.
In the coming weeks, there may be further action from Congress, if necessary, to provide additional relief during this crisis. Your safety and security remain our highest priorities. To that end, please be aware of scams and those who are looking to take advantage of others during this crisis.
Together with your elected leadership, we will continue working tirelessly on your behalf. Regularly check our website, sagaftra.org/covid-19, for the latest updates and resources during this challenging time. Donation of residuals is also now available to support the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. If you need help, ask. If you can help, give.
Blessings to all of you and know we will overcome together.
Stay safe and healthy.
National Executive Director