Hollywood Unions Share Update on Pandemic Relief Efforts in Joint Letter

Unions representing over 500,000 Hollywood workers and talent outline plans to navigate industry lockdown and its aftermath

Last Updated: April 20, 2020 @ 12:49 PM

Leaders from six major Hollywood unions released a joint letter on Monday outlining the efforts they have made on behalf of over 500,000 members in response to the coronavirus pandemic that has shut down the global economy.

Co-signed by the leaders of SAG-AFTRA, Writers Guild of America East, IATSE, the Directors Guild of America, the American Federation of Musicians and th International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the letter outlines the lobbying work that has been done in Congress in order to ensure that Hollywood workers can access federal relief programs as well as collaboration that the guilds have organized across the industry to create safety precautions that will protect workers whenever the lockdown ends.

The guilds also encourage their members to donate to their union’s membership relief funds if possible and invite members in need to apply for financial support.

“We do not know when this national emergency will subside sufficiently to allow productions and other elements of the industry to begin opening back up for business,” the letter reads. “However, we do share a great faith that our industry will return with vigor and present abundant opportunities for our members to work and to reengage in the craft of delivering entertainment to audiences around the world.”

Read the full letter and access each union’s pandemic response page below:

The undersigned guilds and unions represent the diverse, professional workforce that, in ordinary times, come together on productions throughout each year to bring our stories to life for audiences across the globe. Now, in this time when the coronavirus pandemic has brought an unprecedented challenge to our industry, our solidarity is more important than ever before. We come together on behalf of our respective memberships to ensure coordination between our efforts to secure relief, financial support and other critical assistance for the working professionals in this industry. Our members understand the unique power of collective action. Through our unity, we reinforce that power to safeguard our members as much as possible during the extraordinary set of events we face today.

As always, our first concern is your safety and health, and that of your loved ones. We urge members to follow the updated guidance from the CDC and other government authorities in your area. This includes practicing rigorous sanitation efforts and abiding by the “social distancing” directives now in effect across the country. This not only helps to keep you safe but contributes to the effort to bring the pandemic under control, which allows everyone to return to work more quickly. We can all be a part of the solution to this crisis and we hope that each of us takes our role in this effort seriously.

As you know, each of the undersigned organizations has engaged in measures to provide relief and support for our respective memberships. However, it is important that you know that we also have worked together, and with industry and labor allies, in a variety of ways to protect our members. This includes: advocating for the inclusion of our workforce in the direct cash payments and expanded unemployment insurance available in the federal government’s aid packages recently passed by Congress; ensuring as many of our members as possible are included in state assistance programs across the country; channeling urgently needed donations to the industry’s charitable organizations that give direct support to the industry’s workforce; sharing information and ideas on ways to support the sustained financial well-being of our pension and health plans, which are all impacted by the pandemic; and monitoring and addressing, however needed, the steps taken by companies in response to this crisis — steps that directly impact our members.

Importantly, we are also focused on the protective measures that will need to be enacted to keep professionals safe on production sets and other work environments once people can return to work.

We are pleased to report that the above efforts have been fortified in ways great and small by partners and allies throughout the industry, several of which have agreed to find ways to direct resources to our members and to coordinate on various relief efforts. Such measures showcase the best virtues of our industry and are greatly appreciated.

The above steps are significant but we remain keenly aware that even successful efforts cannot end the steep financial challenges most of our members face during this time. If you are in need, we encourage you to apply to the emergency relief funds listed below. If you are able to do so, please consider donating to these relief funds. The need has never been greater and every dollar helps.

As well, each of our organizations has created, and is updating, special COVID-19 internet resources with available guidelines, resources and support to assist you during this time of need. At the end of this communication, you will find links to the key sites.

We do not know when this national emergency will subside sufficiently to allow productions and other elements of the industry to begin opening back up for business. However, we do share a great faith that our industry will return with vigor and present abundant opportunities for our members to work and to reengage in the craft of delivering entertainment to audiences around the world.

Until such time arrives, we stand united as the industry’s guilds and unions to work on your behalf. We stand with you in this crisis, knowing that our solidarity is a core strength that will sustain all of us in the challenging days ahead.

In solidarity,

Ray Hair, International President, American Federation of Musicians

Thomas Schlamme, President, Directors Guild of America

Russell Hollander, National Executive Director, Directors Guild of America

Matthew Loeb, International President, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees

James P. Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Gabrielle Carteris, President, Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists

David P. White, National Executive Director, Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists

Beau Willimon, President, Writers Guild of America, East

Lowell Peterson, Executive Director, Writers Guild of America, East

COVID-19 RESOURCES:

American Federation of Musicians: afm.org/covid-19/

Directors Guild of America: dga.org/The-Guild/Coronavirus-Resources-and-Updates.aspx

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees: iatse.net/coronavirus-update-portal

International Brotherhood of Teamsters: teamster.org/covid-19

SAG-AFTRA: sagaftra.org/covid19

Writers Guild of America East: wgaeast.org/covid19/

FOR EMERGENCY FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE:

The Actors Fund

Directors Guild Foundation

Motion Picture and Television Fund

SAG-AFTRA Foundation