This page will be updated continuously as new information arrives
I N D E X
Health - Health Insurance
$2.2 Trillion Congressional CARES Act
Financial Aid - Other Membership Assistance
Employment - Unemployment - Free Training
Info from Studios - Misc
HEALTH & HEALTH INSURANCE
Latest Health Information can be found at:
State of California COVID-19 Info Page
Info about Health, Unemployment, Relief Resources, Education, Housing, Taxes and a lot more.
Update from the Business Representative
I hope you and your loved ones are safe and staying healthy. We've been answering your questions via email and phone calls and I think it would be good to give the membership an update on some of the questions we've been asked.
The big question on many member's minds is "I can't work now, so will I lose my health coverage during the shutdown?" The people who administer our health and pension plans, Labor Trustees and Management Trustees, are still working on a plan to continue healthcare for as manys members and their families as possible. The reason this is taking so long is that the problem is not an easy one to solve. We have to look at the cost of continued medical care expenses typically covered by the plan, probably running at a lower than usual pace right now, plus the new added expenses resulting from the very high cost of COVID-19 care. At the same time, we have to factor in the total loss of hourly contributions to the plan resulting from the work stoppage. The math does not work in our favor but the way out of this is to dig into our reserves, which are set aside for just the type of crisis we're experiencing. But how much will this cost and how much can we draw down on the reserves? That's exactly what the actuaries are working on right now and we can't arrive at a solution until we have those numbers. I will report to our members as soon as the MPI Board of Trustees has approved a plan.
One very good thing to recognize is that even if we were to do nothing, which is certainly not what we expect to happen, 97% of the currently covered participants would remain covered through the end of June. If you haven't already done so, you should go to www.mpiphp.org to check your current account and see how much coverage you already have.
Another question members have is "Will my severance pay include benefits to MPI?" Many companies are paying some form of severance during April and some into May, and we're still working to get the reluctant ones to do something similar. Important to realize, however, is that this severance pay is not contractual in any way. None of the producers are required to pay it. And since there's no language to define it, there's no uniformity to how it's being paid out. Some employers are paying 40-hour weeks, and some are calling it relief pay, displacement pay, severance pay or something else altogether. We believe that whatever term is used, it should include some form of contributions to the MPI plans.
If you have a question about getting benefits for pay you receive during the shutdown, you can reach out to the employer or you can scan the severance check stub and send it to [email protected] and we can reach out to the company for you.
UPDATE: THIS HAS BEEN CANCELLED
We've also been getting a lot of questions on how to fill out the online application for Unemployment Insurance. Next Thursday, April 9 at 10 am, EDD is conducting a webinar specifically for those who work in the entertainment industry. The webinar is in partnership with EDD, the L. A. County Federation of Labor, AFL CIO, the California IATSE Locals, Directors Guild of America, Laborers Local 724, SAG-AFTRA and Teamsters Local 399. The title of the webinar is "Filing for Unemployment in the Entertainment Industry." Space is limited so if you have not signed up already, you should do so ASAP. In case you miss it, a video will be posted very soon. They ask you to email your questions in advance of the webinar so sign up so you can get your questions answered. Register at https://bit.ly/2R8QWKu
I also recommend that members take a look at two relief programs being offered by SBA… the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance, both of which are aimed at sole proprietorships, independent contractors, self-employed persons and gig economy workers. Funds are limited so if you think you might be eligible, don't put this off. See https://bit.ly/2yucUBb and https://bit.ly/2UIv1Mp
And I'd like to remind you that the IATSE is holding a Food Drive at the IA West Coast Office for anyone in the Entertainment Industry who needs help with food to support their families. The Food Drive takes place Wednesday April 8th, 10am to 2PM at the IATSE West Coast office at 2210 W. Olive Ave, Burbank 91506.
The physical office of Local is of course closed but the remote office is fully functional during this crisis and we're available and ready to handle all your needs. Our office staff and the Representatives and I are responding to all your emails and phone calls. And we're making calls to each and every one all our retirees to be sure they're safe and to find out if they're in need of any help the Local can provide.
If I can find anything positive during this horrible health emergency, it's the one-on-one connections to the membership we still manage to maintain during this strange and difficult time. I want to thank everyone who has offered their time and support to help their follow Sisters and Brothers. We are truly a family. With each of us reaching out and helping our community in any way we can, we will get through this together. I'm proud to say We Are Union, We Are Family. And please remember… it's so important to follow the current safety guidelines and stay home as much as possible in order to slow down the spread and to save the lives of our neighbors so we can all get back to work creating the amazing programs that bring joy to so many.
Scott Bernard, Business Representative, IATSE Local 695
WHAT TO DO IF YOU FEEL SICK?
MPIPHP advises Participants to seek medical care if they develop symptoms of the COVID-19 virus (fever, dry cough, shortness of breath) especially if they have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19. While sick, do everything you can to avoid contact with people. MPI Participants are reminded of their telemedicine benefit which allows you to visit with a physician by phone at (888) 548-3632 or online by computer, smartphone or tablet at www.livehealthonline.com. It should not be used if emergency help is needed.
If you have a Fever. Dry Cough. or Shortness of Breath, see your doctor but call the Doctor’s first office before going in.
24/7 TELEMEDICINE NOW WITH ZERO CO-PAY
Participants of the health plans may visit with a physician by phone or by computer, smartphone or tablet. It should not be used if acute emergency help is needed. The $20 copay has now been waived and participants will not be required to pay additional coinsurance.
-- MPIHP/Anthem Blue Cross - LiveHealth Online - www.livehealthonline.com
-- HealthNet - Teladoc - https://member.teladoc.com/hn or (800) 835-2362
-- Kaiser Permanente - https://k-p.li/2UpTLZC or (833) 574-2273
Oxford Health Plans - Amwell - https://amwell.com/cm/
IF YOU ARE NOT CURRENTLY COVERED BY MPI...
COVID-19 is now a qualifying event to get Covered California insurance plans. No, you do not have to have the virus to qualify. Special open enrollment has opened up because of the threat of getting the disease and being uninsured. Get more information here:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Optum Behavioral Health Virtual Visits
Participants can use secure video-enabled and telephone virtual visits
Optum Free Emotional Support Help, Tools & Resource:
Free emotional support help line for all people impacted by COVID-19. This will provide those affected access to specially trained mental health specialists. The company’s public toll-free help line number, (866) 342-6892, will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for as long as necessary. This service is free of charge and open to anyone.
TO ACCESS SERVICES ON THE OPTUM WEBSITE...
Log on to www.liveandworkwell.com using “MPI” as your “Guest Access Code” and then select “Motion Picture Industry Pension & Health Plans” from the drop down menu.
3/27/2020 - New Benefits - MPI has granted a one-time premium waiver to Participants enrolled and eligible in the Active Health Plan of MPIHP on March 1, 2020, based on the number of dependents enrolled on that date. You don’t need to take any action as the waiver will be automatically applied to your account. For health premiums that have already been paid for an upcoming quarter, MPIHP will not extend a refund; rather, a credit for health premiums for a future quarter will be provided. If you have any questions, email MPIPHP at [email protected]
3/25/2020 - New Benefits - Click here
3/20/2020 - New Benefits - Click here
3/17/2020 - New Benefits - Click here
3/10/2020 - New Benefits - The Motion Picture Industry Health Plan (MPIHP) has announced that Coronavirus COVID-19 diagnostic tests will be covered by each of the health plans. See the announcement here: https://bit.ly/3cMqmjE
Information about which clinics are still open, Telemecine and more.
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$2.2 TRILLION CONGRESSIONAL CARES ACT
The CARES Act
On 3/27, Congress passed the “CARES” Act, providing immediate economic relief for Americans impacted by COVID-19.
Here are notable benefits that will provide help to Entertainment Workers:
- Increased maximum unemployment benefit by $600 per week through July 31
- Extended unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) extends unemployment benefits to those who otherwise would not qualify, including the self-employed and independent contractors
- A direct $1,200 payment to heads of households earning up to $112,500 or other individuals earning up to $75,000 per year
- A direct $2,400 payment to married couples earning up to $150,000 per year
- A direct $500 for each child under 16
- Increased funding by $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts and $75 million for the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities
- Increased funding by $75 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
- Established grants and forgivable loans for small businesses and non-profits so that they can continue to run
HOW DOES THIS EFFECT ME AND HOW DO I GET THE MONEY?
One key component of the act is an additional $600 of weekly unemployment insurance through 7/31/2020. This is on top of what you may have qualified for from your previous work. And you are eligible for the $600 even if you already exhausted your UI benefit and even if you didn’t qualify for UI benefits at all but you can “self-certify” that you are unemployed because your place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The details and procedures for accessing these relief funds are beginning to be released. Here’s what we know so far...
- Flowchart shows who gets which benefits - https://bit.ly/2WPoUYm
- NY Times FAQ answers important questions -https://bit.ly/2UpEjN6
- Breakdown of CARES Act
- Factsheet on unemployment provisions - https://bit.ly/2Jl4kHq
- Surviving Freelancer Unemployment: Making Sense of CARES Act, EIDL, PPP, UI and Getting $10k (if you qualify) https://bit.ly/2JRNNuG
- IA statement on the CARES Act - https://bit.ly/3bpAcq6
- See more info on Unemployment and Disability
SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
SBA has 2 programs designed to provide financial assistance loans that can be sometimes “forgiven” and that apply to "sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons" including gig economy workers.
- Paycheck Protection Program
- Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance
We don’t have all the answers about whether this applies to you but it may be that members who do 1099 work or who have an equipment rental business could qualify.
Here's a relevant article in Vox: https://bit.ly/2R8fHGD
Here’s the Paycheck Protection Program: https://bit.ly/2yucUBb
Here’s the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance: https://bit.ly/2UIv1Mp
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FINANCIAL AID & OTHER MEMBERSHIP ASSISTANCE
Financial Help and other Assistance
An extensive assortment of resources and assistance programs is available from each of these organizations:
- The Motion Picture Television Fund - www.mptf.com
- Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation www.wrpioneers.org
- Behind the Scenes - wp.behindthescenescharity.org/bts-foundation
- Calif United Way COVID-19 Relief Fund - www.unitedwaysca.org/coviduw
NOTE: Under more normal circumstances, the Actor’s Fund is a strong supporter of Local 695 members in need, but during the current health crisis, the flow of assistance funding is not the same as usual. The IATSE has generously contributed $2.5 million to the Actors Fund and the Motion Picture Television Fund (MPTF), asking the two charities to divide up the responsibilities for distributing funds to IATSE members. IA members in Southern California are asked to please apply to MPTF for help, and the rest of the country will reach out to The Actors Fund. The exceptions in Southern California are Local 600 and Local 33 who should still apply to The Actors Fund.
If You Need Help or Want to Volunteer...
IATSE Coronavirus Active Response and Engagement Service (C.A.R.E.S.)
IATSE C.A.R.E.S. is a new initiative designed to provide support to our most at-risk, elderly, and/or disabled members during the COVID-19 crisis. The new website at https://iatsecares.org will be used to provide information about future Mutual Aid efforts from the IATSE and will lestablish a safe and free delivery system which connects trained and healthy IATSE Young Worker volunteers with older IATSE members in need. Members in need may request supplies, groceries, or whatever else they may need, and another IATSE member will bring it to their doorstep through our volunteer database. If you would like to volunteer, go to https://iatsecares.org/volunteer
The IATSE Emergency Relief Fund for Local 695 Members is Being Managed by MPTF
The IATSE donated $2.5 to support the membership. Funds available for Local 695 members are being administered by the Motion Picture & Television Fund. Read the IATSE Emergency Relief Fund FAQ here
IATSE Disaster Response Committee
The IA’s Disaster Response Committee will be closely following guidance from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control. The International's website at www.iatse.net will serve as a Coronavirus Update Portal for members with the most up-to-date information from health officials, and direct info from the International. Check frequently for updates as events develop and check the IATSE Safety Apps for iOS and Android,as well.
Debt and Monthly Payments
If You Need Credit Card Relief...
Call and ask your credit card company what they could do to help. Usually that’s all it takes. Some will extend the grace period or delay payment due dates, and some will forgive fees or interest or even payments. It doesn’t hurt to ask and usually they’ll give you a decent break.
Rent, mortgage, car loans, utilities and child support. The other bills can wait.
Article in The Washington Post https://wapo.st/2wZOwau
How to Survive Debt
From the National Consumer Law Center - https://library.nclc.org/sd/0102
First Entertainment Credit Union Resources Page
Some of the assistance First Entertainment is providing their members includes: Visa card holders: can request to skip payments, refunds on late fees.
Unsecured/Personal Loans: members can request to defer payments, refunds on late fees... Auto Loans: members can request to defer payments, with payments added to the end of the loan... Mortgages and Home Equity Loans: members can request to defer payments, with payments added to the end of the loan. They have a resource page here https://www.firstent.org/emergency-messaging/links-contacts and more info here https://www.firstent.org/emergency-messaging
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EMPLOYMENT - UNEMPLOYMENT - FREE TRAINING
EDD releases a statement on Why It’s Taking So Long and offers Step-by-Step Guidance
U.S. Department Of Labor Publishes Guidance on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance 04.05.20
UNEMPLOYMENT AND DISABILITY INFO
California Unemployment Insurance Program
Good resource for CA employment issues: https://www.labor.ca.gov/coronavirus2019/
EDD is encouraging individuals who are unable to work due to exposure to COVID-19 to file a Disability Insurance claim. DI provides short-term benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy. Benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income) and range from $50-$1,300 a week.
If you’re unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), you can file a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim. PFL provides up to six weeks of benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages because they need time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. Benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income) and range from $50-$1,300 a week.
If you apply for Unemployment Insurance...
Some members have have told us that the California Unemployment Insurance (UI) Online Application is difficult to complete because job descriptions are irrelevant to what we do. Local 695 and the California IATSE Council (CIC) have negotiated with them to make changes in Local 695's job classifications and make this process easier for you. We also have a step-by-step presentation of how 695 members can apply online for CA UI with a page on job classifications to help you determine which one applies to you. Click to see PDF instructions
More Employment Resources
FREE ONLINE TRAINING
Free training covers Audio and Music recording, Video editing and effects, 3D Graphics and Animation, Graphic Design, Business Management, Computer Networking, Website / App / Game Development, Negotiating, Safety in the Workplace, Time Management, Conflict Resolution, Business Writing and much much more. Free for 695 members. See all free training opportunities
Supermarkets are hiring
Many supermarkets and warehouse facilities stores are taking steps to add temporary staffing to fill need. We’ve received info presenting leads to temporary Part-Time positionscurrently available at community supermarkets... jobs that Teamsters Joint Council 42 would prefer to extend to card carrying Union AFL-CIO members, such as Local 695 members. If you are available to work and want to help out, see these links to websites for LA area job opportunities.
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INFO FROM STUDIOS - MISC
Documents and Policy Statements Received from Studios and Health Services
Listed newest to oldest
New Procedures at Contract Services
CSATF is closed to the public but still working remotely to keep critical services operating. Here are new procedures:
â€¢ You can mail roster documentation, letters, paystubs, resumes, etc. to [email protected].
â€¢ Email Employment Verification Letters [email protected].
â€¢ CSATF will be issuing training deadline extensions for in-person courses only. For individuals with online training requirements, those training deadlines still apply.
â€¢ To reduce the amount of paperwork passed between individuals, Contract Services will suspend its processing of Forms I-9 beginning April 1, 2020.
Crowd-sourced Guide to Los Angeles-area Resources
This continuously updated list if local services includes government benefits, worker/housing/low-income resources, entertainment, best practices, etc. See it here https://bit.ly/38Yf60w
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