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Source: US Teamsters Union

The following is an update from Motion Picture and Theatrical Trades Division Director Tom O’Donnell on the current state of the division and the efforts by the union to help its members through this difficult time: 

On or around March 13, 2020, the Motion Picture & Theatrical industries shut down all across North America. We are now in the seventh week post-shutdown, and employment is still at or near zero. This is the Teamsters response, for then, for now, and for tomorrow. 

  • The primary concern by the division focused on was getting our members paid. We engaged with producers to take care of their laid-off employees. Call it severance pay, call it compassion pay. What matters is that most producers have paid an additional 2-4 weeks of wages with benefits. 
  • The IBT, through its lobbying efforts, has played a critical role in shaping the CARES Act for us. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance expanded unemployment insurance to include freelancers and gig workers. Much of our membership falls in these categories and wouldn’t have been included otherwise. 
  • The division has engaged in conversation with the trustees of several prominent industry health plans, in light of little or no qualifying benefit contributions coming in. I’m happy to report that all has taken some measures to ensure continued eligibility and maintenance of benefits. And have promised to monitor it going forward. 
  • We anticipate that commercial production will return first, followed by feature film and television production, then by concerts, live events and legitimate theatre productions. It is likely that some locales, with less incidence of the virus or lower population density, may return sooner than others. This division is committed to facilitating a rapid return to work, but not without adequate safeguards for our members. In this regard, the division will be helping to establish and coordinate work protocols with all applicable teamster locals, as well as with other entertainment industry unions and guilds as well as with the major producers. Understanding that we will need the buy-in and sign-off from local governments.

I have spoken to President Hoffa about the criticality of including state & local aid in the next stimulus package. Not only in the health of state film tax credits, but the film commissions and other agencies that promote and facilitate filmmaking and entertainment. 

Key states that we’ve identified are: 

Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas. I did not include Kentucky due to the ongong political challenges we face with its elected leadership.

I want to recognize Steve Dayan, Principal Officer of Local 399 in Hollywood, he’s been a great partner and resource for the division. 

Thank you for your time. I look forward to sunnier days ahead. Be well, be safe.