NABET-CWA Bulletin, Update #4: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
We begin this third week of our unprecedented national health crisis with a status update regarding continued steps we are taking to protect our members, and their rights. In recent days there have been new announcements from some of our broadcast, cable and production employers regarding work assignments, workflow changes, production interruptions as well as show/event cancellations. NABET-CWA national and local leaders are working cooperatively with those employers to provide the best possible measures of safety, security, continued benefits and compensation – as well as peace of mind – for each of you, our members.
We have been working closely with the NBC Labor Relations team throughout this crisis to ensure that our members – working throughout NBC Universal facilities and enterprises – are as safe and secure as possible in all aspects of their work lives.
We are pleased to report that all NBC Sports and NBCSN production daily hires who had a live sporting event originally scheduled prior to May 10, 2020, which is cancelled as a direct result of the COVID-19 crisis, will be paid for those scheduled work days (excluding travel) as follows: hourly employees will be paid for eight (8) hours at straight time at the rate at which he/she was engaged for the event (without OT, per diem, travel pay or other premiums). Additionally, the Company will make the daily benefit payments due for each scheduled work day, and those days will be credited for benefit-eligibility purposes (170-day threshold).
NBC Studio Shows
Most studio shows are under a production hiatus as a result of the Coronavirus crisis. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers are both dark, and NBC has committed to pay eight (8) hours straight-time for each scheduled work day, limited to work days that were previously scheduled but cancelled. In addition, live broadcasts of Saturday Night Live which were scheduled for March 28th and April 4th have been cancelled. The SNL crew will be paid their regular straight-time rate for each associated work day affected by these cancellations.
FOX Stations, FOX Sports (Pico Lot) and the FOX Hub (Las Vegas)
The Union and the Company have reached an agreement to provide a daily premium payment to employees in these bargaining units who are not able to telecommute/work from home. A daily premium payment of Seventy-Five Dollars ($75) will be made to each employee in the bargaining unit who is assigned to work at a Company facility, or assigned to newsgathering in the field. The daily premium payment will not apply to employees reporting, writing, producing or performing any other work at home. The daily premium payment shall be retroactive to March 16, 2020, and will continue through April 12, 2020. This specific arrangement will be reassessed on or before April 12.
NOTE: After reaching this agreement with specific FOX entities, NABET-CWA is advancing this premium pay initiative with other employers. We will update you on these efforts in the coming days.
ABC / Disney
We are in daily contact with the ABC Labor Relations group in order to stay current regarding emerging developments across ABC’s broadcast and cable platforms.
ABC Sports (Broadcast and Cable)
Daily Hire technicians crewed and payrolled by ABC Sports for events on broadcast or cable platforms, and working under the terms of the Master Agreement and/or the Sports Event Agreement, will be paid for cancelled sporting events that they were scheduled to work through April 5, 2020. These employees will receive a day of pay, at the ten (10) hour rate, for each scheduled event day. Only technicians who were scheduled for these events will be so paid. “Travel-only” days and per diem will not be paid. Contributions for annual vacation pay and retirement savings programs will not be included. The Company will pay daily Payment In Lieu Of Benefits (PILOB) for the above-referenced days.
ABC Studio Shows
The Tamron Hall Show is under a production hiatus, and ABC has committed to pay eight (8) hours straight-time for each scheduled work day, limited to work days that were previously scheduled but cancelled, through April 5, 2020. General Hospital is under a production hiatus and employees assigned to that production will be paid ten (10) hours straight-time for each scheduled work day, through April 5, 2020. The Company will also pay daily Payment In Lieu Of Benefits (PILOB) for the above-referenced days.
ABC Studio Shows (Washington, DC)
Daily Hires working on various studio shows in Washington DC be paid for cancelled work days through April 5, 2020. These employees will receive a day of pay, at the eight (8) hour rate, for each scheduled day. The Company will also pay daily Payment In Lieu Of Benefits (PILOB) for the above-referenced days.
Other Broadcast, Cable and Production Operations
In many cases, work assignments and workflows must continue, but with changes in established methods of operation. NABET-CWA members assigned to “in-house” operations at network facilities, broadcast centers, television stations and distribution facilities must be vigilant with regard to social distancing, disinfecting and cleaning of work areas and equipment as well as all other recommended prevention protocols. Individuals assigned to network and station newsgathering assignments are being assigned specific equipment and vehicles for their exclusive use, and being asked to take those vehicles and equipment home with them. Once again, follow all proper protocols, rules and procedures. If you have questions or concerns, contact your Local Union office.
We all know unemployment insurance exists to provide us with income when we are separated from employment through no fault of our own. NABET-CWA members who are laid off or have been directed to stay home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and are not receiving wages for the time off, should file for unemployment online with their state agencies immediately. Many states have eliminated the “waiting period” so that you can receive payments quicker. States have also eliminated the requirement that you actively look for work, while the COVID-19 pandemic is still prevalent. The amount of your unemployment insurance payment will depend on how much you earned during the past five (5) quarters before the date you file. Moreover, if your hours have been reduced, you should still file for unemployment, as you may qualify for partial benefits. File online with your appropriate state agency, easily found by typing your state’s name and unemployment in your search browser.
If you are infected with the COVID-19 virus as a result of your job, i.e. exposed at work or in the field, you may qualify for workers compensation benefits. Workers comp is a state benefit, and if qualified, injured workers may be entitled to 1) salary replacement; 2) medical benefits; 3) physical therapy; and 4) payments for permanent partial or total loss of the use of a limb, organ, etc. You can start the process by telling your manager or HR, after you have tested positive and you believe it is work related, to file an injury report for workers comp purposes. Notice to the employer is a requirement, but the notice does not actually start your claim process.
If you think you have contracted COVID-19 through exposure at work, you should seek the assistance of a reputable workers comp attorney to help you file your claim with the state. The assistance of a good attorney from the start can make a huge difference in the outcome of your claim. Your Local may have a referral for you. You can also check with your labor council, which may have a list of referrals.
Entertainment Industry Flex Plan / 401(k) Plan
Plan Administrators are making extraordinary efforts to service Plan participants in light of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
For complete details, visit the Flex Plan website: www.flexplan.com
Union Plus Program
Check the website www.unionplus.org for useful information and updates.
If you are a participant in the Union Plus Mortgage, Credit Card Personal Loan or supplemental insurance programs, you may be eligible for additional hardship assistance. Please visit the ‘Hardship Help’ section of the Union Plus website for eligibility requirements: https://www.unionplus.org/hardship-help
The CARES Act
- 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.
We encourage you to ignore rumors and focus on factual information. If you have specific concerns, or reports of situations that the Union should be aware of, please contact your Local Union Office.
Your Union leadership is working around the clock to respond to evolving and rapidly changing circumstances -- always with your best interests first and foremost on our minds. We wish the best of health to you and your families during this difficult period – and always.