The entertainment industry has been particularly hard hit by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are hoping the next stimulus bill or economic relief package will help. What are the options on the table and how has the industry responded? This article from C/Net Personal Finance, HEALS vs. CARES vs. Heroes acts: Republican and Democratic Stimulus Packages, Compared spells out the differences in the various proposals made by Democrats and Republicans, who are trying to find a common ground.
The Heroes Act was proposed by the Democrats in May, and differs from the HEALS Act proposed by the Republicans the last week in July. The CARES Act was also proposed by the Republicans, and varies from the other two. One of the main differences is the amount in dollars for extended unemployment benefits, an essential need for many in our community.
Various entities in our industry have responded to the legislation, including Matthew D. Loeb, International President of the IATSE, who quickly released the following statement in response to the introduction of the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act (full article here):
“The HEALS Act as currently drafted is woefully inadequate in addressing the needs of entertainment workers in the ongoing health crisis. The proposed reduction in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation to $200 per week for two months is strikingly insufficient for IATSE members to make ends meet, as the entertainment industry will continue to be disproportionately impacted by this pandemic for the foreseeable future.
While seeking to reduce unemployment benefits for workers, Senate Republicans have conversely seen fit in this bill to expand access to federal economic support for chambers of commerce but continue to exclude nonprofit labor unions from eligibility for the same relief.
Unlike the HEROES Act, the HEALS Act is alarmingly silent on a federal COBRA subsidy to keep working families insured on their job-based healthcare plan; it lacks any economic relief for pension plans affected by the pandemic; and it ignores the need for an OSHA emergency temporary standard to protect those going back to work.
IATSE calls on the Senate to dismiss this legislative draft outright and begin negotiations on the House-passed HEROES Act which will provide the federal relief that working families across the country require.”
The AFL-CIO has urged everyone to call their senators and tell them to vote for the Heroes Act, and Michael Strickland of Bandit Lites, who has been working tirelessly on behalf of our industry, encourages everyone to call their senators and make it clear the industry needs more PPP and more Enhanced Unemployment Insurance (hopefully at the same $600 level but that is a big sticking point in the negotiations). He is working to get more senators to support the RESTART Act.
Other documents of interest to our industry:
- The Save Our Stages Act is largely reliant on RESTART, but is carves out money distinctly for a smaller subset of people.
- The NIVA ask is also included and is very powerful. You can see it pushes for RESTART.
- Cornyn Thune Live Venue Letter
Contact your elected officials, call your senators (U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request), and make your voice heard.