More than 5,000 SAG-AFTRA and IATSE members tuned in for a virtual town hall with U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, on May 12 to discuss the impact of COVID-19, future government relief efforts and the process of getting the entertainment and media industry back to work. SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris and IATSE International President Matt Loeb hosted.
While the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdown of film and television productions greatly impacted performers and other workers, the congressman, who represents California, has remained a proponent for the entertainment industry. He was one of the champions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provided relief for workers, including those employed in a freelance or contract capacity.
After an introduction by SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White, Schiff fielded questions submitted by members of both unions and addressed numerous questions about Congress’ efforts to continue relief efforts started by the CARES Act.
Members of both unions raised concerns about unemployment relief challenges facing “mixed income” individuals who have both W2 and 1099 earnings, something SAG-AFTRA and IATSE are working with state and federal legislators to resolve.
Schiff acknowledged it was not the intent of CARES to leave mixed income earners behind: “It may be necessary for us in a subsequent CARES package to [state] that all incomes should be considered for the purposes of federal and state benefits, and that people affected, whether it’s in the entertainment industry or other industries, should get the full benefit of what their previous income had been.”
The congressman also talked about factors being considered needed to reopen the economy, citing his and colleagues’ focus on adhering to the advice of health experts in their discussions.
“[We’re] all taking the need to make sure worker safety is covered in our legislative work product if we’re going to be serious about reopening.” said Schiff.
Schiff concluded the town hall by highlighting the importance of workers’ rights and encouraging attendees to reach out to their elected representatives on these issues.
“I can’t imagine a more important time for workers to be represented right now and have the ability to collectively bargain and offset the enormous power of some of these large employers,” said Schiff.
To view the town hall, see below.
SAG-AFTRA is a union that has among its members a diverse group of performers, recording artists, broadcasters and newscasters. The event was for informational and educational purposes only. The event and the invited speakers’ statements should not be interpreted as statements of opinion by, or of, the union, or any specific member or officer of the union. SAG-AFTRA does not participate in partisan electoral activities of any kind at the federal, state, county, or municipal level.
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