Category Archives: E-Board News

Information coming from the elected offices.

Deadlines, Claims, and COBRA from the IATSE-NBF

The following is from an email notice via the IATSE National Benefits Fund Office.

Important Information Regarding Extensions of Deadlines Related to Benefit Claims and Appeals, Special Enrollment and COBRA

Due to the various challenges that individuals are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S Department of Labor (DOL) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) jointly issued rules that extend certain deadlines for individuals who participate in employee benefit plans. These rules apply to the IATSE National Benefit Funds. 

In accordance with the DOL/IRS rules, the “outbreak period” will not be counted when the Funds (or their claims administrators and benefit providers) calculate certain deadlines. The “outbreak period” is defined as the period from March 1, 2020 until 60 days after the COVID-19 National Emergency ends as determined by the federal government (or such other date as the DOL/IRS announce, which may be specific to different states or geographic regions).

The following deadlines are extended by the rules:  

  1. The Funds’ deadlines for filing a benefit claim or an appeal of a denied claim (or other adverse benefit determination), and the period for requesting an external review (or perfecting a request for external review) of a health benefit claim.
                                                         
  2. The 60-day period to request special enrollment in the Health & Welfare Fund after acquiring a new dependent due to birth, marriage, adoption or placement for adoption, or after losing other health coverage (or becoming eligible for health coverage assistance under Medicaid or CHIP). 
  3. The 60-day COBRA election period and the 60-day period for notifying the Health Fund of a COBRA qualifying event or Social Security disability determination.
  4. The 45-day and 30-day deadlines for paying initial and monthly COBRA premiums.

For example, if the National Emergency ends on June 29, then the outbreak period would end on August 28 (60 days later), and the period from March 1 through August 28 would not count toward any of the above periods that would ordinarily expire between March 1 and August 28. Those periods would re-start on August 29, with the remaining days left in the applicable period. Please refer to the Summary Plan Descriptions and the Funds’ website for additional details regarding the various plan deadlines, and email  if you have any questions regarding how these rules may apply to you. Please note that only the four deadlines listed above are extended. Any other deadlines under the Plans (such as the due date for making any required CAPP payments) remain in place.

Please also note that, in conjunction with the above relief, the DOL stated that it recognizes that employee benefit plans (like the Funds) also face challenges and disruptions that make it difficult to communicate with participants by the usual methods and in as timely a manner during the outbreak period. In addition, the DOL/IRS rules specifically provide for the outbreak period to be disregarded in calculating the deadline for the Fund Office to provide COBRA election notices to qualified beneficiaries

April Membership Meeting via Zoom the 27th

Brothers and Sisters,

To allow us to conduct business safely during the Covid-19 pandemic, International President Loeb has granted Local 205 permission to conduct membership meetings by video conference while social distancing mandates remain in effect.

Therefore, please join me for our first ever virtual membership meeting,
WHAT: APRIL REGULAR MEETING
WHEN: MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2020 AT 7:30 PM
WHERE: YOUR COUCH

This meeting will be conducted via Zoom. Please familiarize yourself with this platform. You may have received an invitation from Zoom to sign up for a user account. This is optional; you do not need a user account to participate in a meeting you are invited to, you can simply click the links provided to you. 

Note only a phone is required to join the meeting. Computer, zoom app and webcam etc are all optional. If you do dial into the meeting, Zoom also has two over-the-phone codes:
*6 to mute or un-mute
*9 to raise your hand.

To ensure security, you will need to register in advance for this meeting, check your email for an announce message containing the registration link. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. When you join the meeting, expect to be held in a virtual waiting room to be admitted, so join a few minutes before 7:30 PM. Also, the meeting will be recorded for the purpose of obtaining accurate minutes. Once the minutes of the meeting are drafted, the recording will be disposed of.

As this will be our first virtual meeting, please be patient and expect challenges. I will post a meeting agenda in due course. I intend to keep it light, but if you have a particular item of business you wish to discuss, please email Secretary Twenter or myself ASAP to have it added to the agenda.

We will not hold the election for Vice-President or nominations for Treasurer at this meeting. These items are on hold until I have received advice from International. I suspect that we will be able to hold nominations virtually with proper notice, but that elections will have to wait until we can meet in person.

In Solidarity,
Rachel Magee, 
President.


Tutorial for joining a meeting:

Tutorial for joining and configuring your audio/video sources:

Call Steward 3 Coming Soon

During the past month, with the help of Assistant Business Agent Davis and Crewing Stewards Siegel and Rave, we’ve been working with Ed Hills on transitioning to the latest version of Call Steward database, Call Steward 3 and are making good progress.

Soon you will receive an email with information on how to log into your profile on the new CS3 site. This will require steps to set up and we will be available to assist you. Once we have it ready to go, we will send you the information on how to access and complete your set up.

In Solidarity,

Nikki Combs
Business Agent

Actors Fund Grant Process

As you may know, IATSE has partnered with the Actors Fund to assist members who find themselves in financial need due to being out of work during the pandemic.  This morning I spoke with a very helpful contact named Barbara Davis over at the Actors Fund who walked me through the application process and documentation requirements.

The application takes about two weeks to process. She says that they’ve also recently partnered with Netflix and have funds available for crew members who need help.

Members who are not able to make ends meet for the next month or two, are encouraged to begin the application process asap to see if you qualify for a grant. On *average*,  the grant amount is a one time issue of up to $1000. This is not an income replacement program, it is a financial grant to assist IATSE members help with meeting basic needs such as rent and utility bills.

If you’ve found that you require more assistance than you are able to receive through TWC unemployment benefits, visit the link below to get your application started with Actors Fund. The Actors Fund grant is to supplement, not replace your unemployment benefits. 

If you’re having difficulty providing the required documentation (work history up to five years, proof of up to $6500 per year earned in stagecraft, etc) contact me for help. Miss Davis said that we can provide proof of work history if you do not have access to your W2s.  Work history is archived on Call Steward or available through your employers HR departments. I am eager to assist those of you who find you need help navigating this process. Please reach out and ask. 

Visit the link below to begin the Actors Fund application process: 
https://actorsfund.org/help-our-entertainment-communiity-covid-19-emergency-relief

If you are fortunate enough to be in such a position, you can donate to this fund.

Miss Davis also mentioned the Live Nation / Crew Nation has resources available to those who work in live music concert industry so I am looking into that and will send information on the application process as it becomes available. 

In Solidarity, 
Nikki Combs
Business Agent

Announce: Shelter-in-place extended to May 8

The following was sent to the membership via the announce mechanism on April 13th 2020 via the office of the president:


Brothers and Sisters,

The City of Austin and Travis County have extended the shelter-in-place order until May 8. The new ordinance also calls on residents to wear facial coverings when out in public. <https://www.statesman.com/news/20200413/coronavirus-in-austin-facial-coverings-required-in-new-stay-at-home-orders?nocache=1&utm_source=SFMC&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Austin%20American-Statesman%20austin-breaking-news%202020-04-1322:25:27&utm_content=GCOX_AUS&utm_term=041320>

Continue to stay home, safe and well.

In Solidarity,

Rachel Magee,
President.

Announce: Secretary Treasurer

The following was sent to the membership via the announce mechanism April 9th 2020 from the office of the recording secretary:


Dear 205 family,

Brother Michael Danburg has resigned as Secretary-Treasurer. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted the need for Brother Danburg to travel a different path from the one he originally planned. Although the Executive Board is sad to loose him, we understand the need to put family first and wish him the very best.

To ensure continuity of office, Brother Roger Dale Barrick has been appointed to serve as Interim Secretary-Treasurer, effective immediately. Notices for a by-election for the office of Secretary-Treasurer will follow in due course.

Wishing you all peace and good health.

In solidarity,

Andrew Twenter
Recording Secretary

Announce: March Membership Meeting / VP Election

The following was sent to the membership via the announce mechanism on Mar. 27th 2020 via the office of the recording secretary:


Dear 205 Family,

I hope this message finds you well.

Earlier this week, Mayor Adler signed a Stay Home – Work Safe Order <https://www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/2020-03/Order%2020200324-007%20-%20Stay%20Home%20-%20Work%20Safe%20%28OCR%20v2%29.pdf> to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Because of this order, the union office is closed and officers are working from home. Additionally, the March regular meeting is canceled and the election for Vice President is postponed until further notice.

Brother Joe Martin will continue to serve as Interim Vice-President and Election Judge Miller will continue to collect the previously mailed ballots and hold them until the day of the election. Additionally, the deadline for receiving ballots is extended until 10:30 a.m. the day of the election.

Every member should have received a notice of election containing a ballot, an unmarked envelope, and a larger envelope addressed to Election Judge Joan Miller with return address so that the eligibility of the voter can be determined. Any ballot received in an envelope without a return address cannot be counted. If you did not receive these items, or have any concerns about the voting process, please contact Election Judge Miller at (512) 663-6991 or ifzf273 at icloud.com.

We appreciate your patience and understanding while we navigate this unchartered territory.

Healthy wishes to everyone.


In solidarity,

Andrew Twenter
Recording Secretary

Announce: Keep in touch, share resources and don’t forget to file…

The following was sent to the membership via the announce mechanism on Mar. 25th 2020 from the office of the president:


Brothers and Sisters.

During the City of Austin’s mandatory shelter in place order <http://www.mayoradler.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Order-20200324-007-Stay-Home-Work-Safe.pdf>, please do the following 4 things,

Join IATSE Local 205’s Mutual Aid FaceBook Group <https://www.facebook.com/groups/3791903320850075/blocked/> to converse with members and coworkers, share resources, and coordinate help.

Sign up for free with Zoom <https://zoom.us/> to keep in touch with each other via video conferencing.

File for unemployment insurance <https://twc.texas.gov/news/covid-19-resources-job-seekers>. TIP: file online at night. Demand is high during the day, expect the phones to be busy and the website to crash. But, be patient and keep trying. We don’t know how long we are going to be out of work.

Be prepared to provide,
Last day of work
Name and address of last employer
First day of work with last of employer
Rate of pay for with last employer
Hours of work for last employer
Sign up for disaster assistance <https://twc.texas.gov/jobseekers/disaster-unemployment-assistance>
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) provides unemployment benefits for individuals who lost their jobs or self-employment or who are no longer working as a direct result of a major disaster for which a disaster assistance period is declared, and who applied but are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits. See the Eligibility section for details.

Day 1 down, 19 more to go.

Stay safe, keep well,

Rachel Magee,
President.

Announce: City Council Resolution Re. Event Cancellations

The following was sent to the membership via the announce mechanism on Mar. 24th via the office of the president:


Brothers and Sisters,

The City of Austin meeting agenda for Wednesday, March 25 includes item 55, a resolution to assist those impacted by COVID-19 related cancellations <http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincouncilforum/81-20200319101401.pdf> of major events, including SXSW:

55. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to develop programs to support the small and local businesses and workers in the creative, hospitality, service, music, and film industries and other associated industries impacted by the cancellation of the 2020 South By Southwest (SXSW) Festival.

Sponsors:

Council Member Jimmy Flannigan, Mayor Steve Adler, Council Member Gregorio Casar, Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison, and Council Member Paige Ellis

Public comment will be allowed by telephone only. All speakers must register in advance <http://www.austintexas.gov/department/city-council/2020/20200326-reg.htm#> by noon on Wednesday, March 25.

I will prepare a statement of support. I will aim to highlight not only our immediate needs, but also the long term effects that need to be considered, such as the impact of reduced HOT revenue on Cultural Arts funding. I am open to collaborating on this item or any other actions that will help our industry recover. I anticipate this item will pass with ease. My primary concern is to make sure entertainment workers are not left out.

Rachel Magee,
IATSE Local 205 President

Announce: COVID-19: Sharing Our Story

The following was sent to the membership via the announce mechanism on Mar. 23rd 2020 via the office of the president:


Brothers and Sisters,

Sharing our story can help us leverage support and resources during these trying times.

The collective effort to get Congress to recognize our plight is showing signs of success. So far, IATSE members and supporters have sent over 105,000 letters demanding that entertainment workers be included in government relief efforts <https://actionnetwork.org/letters/tell-congress-to-include-displaced-workers-in-relief-package>. This surpassed the original goal, which has since been increased. Please continue to encourage your friends, coworkers, neighbors, and family members to email a letter.

The campaign has caught the attention not only of Congress <http://www.playbill.com/article/representative-adam-schiff-and-more-members-of-congress-sign-letter-in-support-of-entertainment-workers>, but also the press <https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/mar/20/adam-schiff-calls-for-congress-to-expand-coronavir/>. In response, charities <https://actorsfund.org/am-i-eligible-help> are rallying resources, some of the industry’s employers <https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Netflix-Pledges-100-Million-to-Aid-Entertainment-Workers-Impacted-by-Covid-19-20200320> are stepping up, and coalitions <https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Netflix-Pledges-100-Million-to-Aid-Entertainment-Workers-Impacted-by-Covid-19-20200320> are being formed to help push the agenda further.

Prior to launching this campaign, International President Loeb called on members to lobby local, state, and federal governments for policies to provide relief for our workforce. Last week, Local 205 and Unite Here <https://www.dropbox.com/s/b0wup37c02fkarw/Joint%20UHIATSE%20Letter%20Signed.pdf?dl=0> sent a joint letter to the City of Austin. On Thursday, I spoke with Congressman Lloyd Doggett’s office about our situation. In the coming weeks, I plan to contact state legislators, and to follow up with our local employers, to whom I sent a memo last week <https://www.dropbox.com/s/igup39krl4dtw3l/COVID-19%20MEMO%202020-3-16%20copy.pdf?dl=0>.

Press coverage amplifies public issues. On March 10, I participated in a press conference hosted by Texas AFL-CIO <https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=493089578036154&id=122300848805&_rdr> highlighting concerns working people have about COVID-19, including the financial impact on our community <https://www.kxan.com/news/sxsw/austin-bracing-for-ripple-effect-in-local-job-market-after-sxsw-canceled/>. Tomorrow, I will be responding to a request from the Austin Chronicle to comment on unemployment related to COVID-19.

To be an effective advocate for our local, it is important that I understand the impact COVID-19 is having on each and every one of you. In the absence of being able to meet as a group, please use this form to share your story <https://docs.google.com/forms/d/10m2DpO6Ta0yaoq0G9S0mbZbgu19pb0xi9lzoK9sgsDg/edit> with me. Also, to help me analyze the impact to our membership as a whole, please take a couple of minutes to answer these questions <https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TSXLDFP>.

In Solidarity,
Rachel Magee,