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NABET-CWA Bulletin, Update #3: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Earlier today, the United States Congress passed a third package of emergency relief legislation: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security “CARES” Act.

This bill will provide tangible and immediate economic relief for entertainment industry workers across the United States, many of whom found themselves out of work overnight due to COVID-19 related cancellations across all areas of our industry. Daily Hire members who were confirmed to work on various shows and productions are now facing the uncertainty of when they will return to work with full wages and benefits.

In some cases, state unemployment insurance benefits tend to be insufficient for entertainment industry workers, and some of our members are not eligible for the paid leave expansion in the newly passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act, because of the unique nature of daily hire work.

NABET-CWA members and our colleagues in the broadcast and entertainment industries flooded Congress with letters and phone calls urging lawmakers to include displaced entertainment workers in the next legislative relief package, and our voices were heard. We commend Congress for expanding access to economic support for the loss of work in our industry, related to COVID-19.

The CARES Act contains the following key provisions:

  • Creates a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program to provide payment to those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency. This includes entertainment industry workers with limited work history and scheduled, or offered, work that did not commence.
  • Provides an additional $600 per week payment to each recipient of unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, for up to four months.
  • Provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits to help those who remain unemployed after state unemployment benefits are no longer available.
  • Provides one-time recovery checks of $1,200 for all individuals with adjusted gross income up to $75,000; $112,500 for head of household. All married couples, with adjusted gross income up to $150,000 who file a joint return, are eligible for $2,400. Those amounts increase by $500 for every child. The rebate amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 a taxpayer’s income exceeds the phase-out threshold. The amount is completely phased-out for single filers with incomes exceeding $99,000, $136,500 for head of household filers, and $198,000 for joint filers.
  • Waives the 10-percent early withdrawal penalty for distributions up to $100,000 from qualified retirement accounts for coronavirus-related purposes.

This legislation is historic. It will help to save our jobs and our industry. But it’s not perfect. We must continue to work with lawmakers, the administration, and our employers to ensure the bill is implemented as intended, but we also need to recognize that this is a baseline for our fight going forward.

NABET-CWA remains focused on ensuring that subsequent COVID-19 relief legislation includes pension relief, access to affordable healthcare, economic support for the entertainment industry to put people back to work, and increased federal funding to assist employers in financing projects and productions.

We also stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters on the front lines of this coronavirus pandemic and call for increased safety and protections as they work selflessly to help others.

We look forward to the day when our industry is once again open for business and you are back to work -- but we must continue our fight against this public health crisis and ensure we sustain all working people until they can safely return to work.

We encourage you to ignore rumors and focus on the facts. Misinformation is always unhelpful, but it is especially harmful during a crisis with so much at stake. Contact your Local Union office if you have a concern and we will ensure you get accurate information throughout the days, weeks, and months going forward.

We wish the best of health to you and your families during this difficult period – and always.

In Solidarity,