A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT:
I’m writing this message to all of you as a prologue to Local 764’S email update regarding important developments and information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, our work, and ways for Local 764 members to get help, be active, and support one another. Underneath this letter you will see links and information about politics, your unemployment benefits, the National Benefit Funds, opportunities to volunteer, and more.
The question that I get most often is, “When are we going to be able to return to work safely?” Unfortunately, the answer is still “I’m not sure.” Most of you know that the Broadway League announced on Tuesday that they are giving ticket refunds for all performances through September 6. There is widespread expectation that live performances will not be taking place even after that date. Permits for motion picture and television production will not be issued until after at least May 31st. That date has not changed in recent weeks.
It could be that some of you are asked to work as productions start up outside of Local 764’s jurisdiction, in other states or parts of New York. Please contact the Business Agents ([email protected] ; [email protected] ) and forward any and all communications you may receive from employers to them. By keeping the union informed, you are helping yourself and everyone in the Local return to work in the safest possible manner.
Your union is now in the thick of working to be sure that when jobs start up again, the workers will be safe. Local 764 is very active in many of the groups that are weighing in officially in the industry, the city and the state regarding safe return to work policies. Leah Okin serves on the COVID Reopening Committee of the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds (COBUG). I have been asked to serve on the IATSE International’s Live Events Reopening Task Force, which is dealing with not only Broadway, but all sorts of live presentations across the whole United States. Frank Gallagher is active on the reopening team for the New York Production Locals. He also attends the virtual meetings of the IATSE/AMPTP Task force in which the union and the employers on both coasts are working with an epidemiologist to come up with safe return to work practices. Martha Smith and I also attend some meetings of this group.
All these groups are working with a set of uniform policies that the IATSE International formulated in consultation with safety specialists that were distributed to all Locals. The International has also engaged three top epidemiologists to assist the union. Marina Jabsky, an industrial hygienist from the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) is working directly with Local 764 to assist our Business Agents and to help the union reopen our own office in a way that employees will be safe. We are in close contact with the union representatives on the Mayor’s and Governor’s task forces as well.
Martha Smith, our Executive Board, and our excellent office staff continue to work hard to assist members and run the business of Local 764 remotely, and they are doing a wonderful job. They also assist the Business Agents and me in so many ways that I have lost count. All of you members continue to make me proud in the ways that you continue to volunteer to make masks and other PPE for vulnerable populations (seniors, the blind, people in domestic violence shelters), to check on and assist each other, to call in and send information to the office, and to be politically active. A special shout-out must go to the members of the Local 764 Film Majors Committee who met virtually this past week with Frank, Martha, and me for updates and to begin plans for reopening MPTV work. Their intelligence, knowledge of the work, and concern for not only every single Local 764 worker, but everyone on our jobs, is inspirational.
Another question you may have is, “When are we going to have another Town Hall?” There will be a second Town Hall meeting by the end of this month, and information will be sent to the members as soon as is practical. The response to the first Town Hall was very positive, and if you missed it, you can still see it through the link on the Member’s section of the Local 764 Website. I also encourage you to watch IATSE International President Loeb’s Town Hall, the details of which are in the information below. In fact, please look at all the useful information in the rest of this email and keep it on hand in case you need it to help another worker, too.
If I am truthful, a question that not too many people ask out loud, but that all of us think about on hard days is “How are we going to get through this?”. For me, the answer is that we will persevere by sticking together, not only as Local 764, but as the IATSE, the Labor Movement, New York’s workforce, citizens, friends, and families. We will ask for help when we need it and help others when we are able. We will do our best to stay healthy and safe, not only in our bodies, but in spirit as well, fighting not to let the pessimism of the current situation infect our inner beings. This is not easy, but we can do it, and we will. Your union is still strong behind you.
Many of you have likely already seen this video that Spike Lee posted on YouTube. It is melancholy but strong, and is a good fit for this moment, I think. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRRvhO0Chg4 I wanted to share it with you. You may not want to watch it on your saddest day. But it helps me to remember that New York is resilient. Local 764 is resilient. Each of you is resilient. #764 strong.
In warm solidarity to all of you,
Local 764 will announce a second Virtual Town Hall date soon.
Look for the announcement and registration link which will be sent to members through email. The previous Town Hall from May 1st, 2020 will remain on the Local 764 for one more week (www.ia764.org).
Click HERE for the replay of IATSE International President Matthew Loeb’s Town Hall with SAG AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris and Representative Adam Schiff. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcHMP_z9o2o&feature=youtu.be)
AFL-CIO President Trumka held a Town Hall May 15th with Matt Morrison from Working America. You can watch the replay HERE. (https://www.facebook.com/WorkingAmerica/videos/2531845243749373/?__tn__=HH-R)
As many of you know the New York State unemployment system has been overwhelmed by the increase in the number of claims since mid-March. In an effort to help individuals get the backdated payments they are entitled to the Department of Labor is using technology provided by DocuSign. If you receive an email from the Department of Labor, they advise that you fill out the form and submit it as quickly as possible. To avoid any security issues, DocuSign has provided guidance on how to detect security threats and report them to the Docusign information security team for investigation. https://www.docusign.com/trust/security/incident-reporting
The DOL has begun a new initiative to inform people of the status of their unemployment benefits application using emails and text messages. You should receive a text message or email when:
According to the Legal Aid Society individuals have reported that their benefits began being paid within two weeks of receiving a text message through this system.
As a reminder, even if you have not begun receiving payments you MUST log on to the DOL website each week and certify your benefits. When you log to certify make sure to report any income you have received or work you have performed that might affect that weeks’ benefits.
If the system will not allow you to certify your benefits you MUST still log on to the DOL website each week. Attempt to certify and take a screen shot, save it with the date and time you attempted to log on. You may need this information in the future in order to ensure you receive all weeks of benefits you are entitled too.
Governor Cuomo, Mayor DeBlasio and Representatives from the New York State Legislature have offered to intervene on behalf of their constituents. For information on who your NYS representative is please contact Local 764.
Recently the Legal Aid Society created the Access to Benefits Hotline for help NYC residents with unemployment benefits matters. Interpreters are available for all languages. The Access to Benefits (A2B) Helpline 888-663-6880 will be open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
For more information, please contact Leah Okin at [email protected].
WRITE YOU CONGRESS PERSON HERE (remember to make the letter personal by writing about Local 764’s work and what we do!)
SHARE THIS WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY, ANYONE CAN WRITE THEIR REPRESENTATIVE TO ADVOCATE FOR WORKING PEOPLE IN OUR INDUSTRY!
Congress has begun to pursue additional federal legislation in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The entertainment industry will continue to be disproportionately impacted by this health crisis and we need to ensure that that subsequent COVID-19 legislation puts workers first. We must act now and urge our representatives to include the following priorities in any subsequent legislation:
· First and foremost, congress must ensure the safety of entertainment workers as states allow workplaces to re-open by ordering OSHA to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard that establishes an employer’s responsibility to protect workers from infection. Under current standards no such obligation exists which leaves the door open and put workers and their families at risk.
· Make sure workers in all states have access to COVID-19 relief by demanding that states ramp up and improve their unemployment claim processing
· Preserve workers’ healthcare and ensure that no-one loses their benefits by passing a 100 percent COBRA premium subsidy to keep families insured on their job-based healthcare plan and extend eligibility to 36 months.
· Extend the “CARES” Act’s unemployment insurance provisions for as long as the health crisis persists.
· Allow all nonprofits fair access to the government economic support in the Paycheck Protection Program – including labor unions, the staffs of which are providing vital assistance to members around the clock and face the same hardships that small businesses face.
Protect the healthy pension plans and earned pension checks of entertainment workers by allowing multiemployer plans to implement policies that safeguarded pensions after the Great Recession, such as freezing zone status, smoothing investment losses, and doing no harm to healthy pension plans.
· Update the Qualified Performing Artist tax deduction, allowing creative professionals to keep more of our hard-earned money by deducting necessary business expenses from their taxes, now due in July.
· Provide direct economic support for organizations in the arts, entertainment, and media industries with appropriate workforce restoration requirements to get people back to work when it is safe to do so.
CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE HERE:
REGISTER TO VOTE
Now it is more important than ever to register to vote.
Already registered? Help others register!
Need an absentee ballot – sign up!
Not sure of your status? Check on it!
FILL IT OUT and
Already filled out the Census? We hope so!
Local 764’s Census Committee and Social Media Team have been working hard to get the message of just how important the Census is to New York and workers in general. Follow Local 764 at @iatselocal764 to find out more!
Encourage others to fill out the Census – share online how important the Census is to working people!
BELOW ARE UPDATES TO LOCAL 764 INFORMATION ON:
FROM THE IATSE NATIONAL BENEFIT FUNDS:
Participants of the IATSE National Benefit Funds (NBF) should receive correspondence directly from the fund. Correspondence regarding the extension of certain deadlines regarding appeals, benefit claims, special enrollment and COBRA.
You can read the full letter here:
AID AND RESOURCES:
Behind The Scenes: Behind the Scenes offers Mental Health and Wellness Resources for workers in Entertainment: https://wp.behindthescenescharity.org/mental-health-and-suicide-prevention-initiative/
Our members and our skills are still in demand! If you need a place to donate masks you have been making, or would like to get involved in one of Local 764’s many volunteer initiatives, please contact the Local 764 office and we will put you in touch with the different opportunities and partners we have.
Local 764 is currently partnering with:
VISIONS: Services for the Blind and the Visually Impaired
These links are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by the Local 764 of any of the products, services, activities or opinions of the corporation or organization or individual. Local 764 cannot vouch for the accuracy, legality or content of the external site or for that of subsequent links. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.