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Action: Top Priorities for Entertainment Workers in Subsequent COVID-19 Legislation

Letter writing campaign, contact your representatives now. Personalize your letter for better effect. The following goals are from the IATSE C.A.R.E.S. announcement.

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:

· 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.

· And finally, we must protect entertainment workers still performing essential work in news media and converting facilities into temporary field hospitals by requiring the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard.

Start writing your letter.

OSHA-10 Entertainment Classes in Nov. 2020

For 205 Members via Announce:

Brothers and Sisters, Next month Brother Patrick Crowley will present OSHA 10 Entertainment, a unique approach to gaining a certification that many employers and workplaces now require.

Temporarily allowed by OSHA to be presented online and divided into five small sessions, this workshop was designed by IATSE members and utilizes examples from the entertainment industry. 

OSHA 10 certification cards will be provided to 15 attendees that meet all instruction requirements.

Offered at no cost to IATSE members, enrollment is limited.  Email interest to the Vice President.

OSHA 10 – Entertainment – November 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 (9am-noon)

Also worth noting that some of the only work available during COVID right now is construction/installation work. Many of these jobsites require OSHA-10, and it’s not something you can get last minute.

RISE 2.0 Info Flyer

RISE2 Financial Assistance Opportunity for Austin/Travis Co. Residents

City of Austin / Travis County has made available another relief program for households impacted by loss of work due to COVID-19. RISE 2.0 $2000 relief grants will be dispersed via a lottery to applicants who qualify.

For more details visit the program page:
https://www.austintexas.gov/article/covid-19-relief-state-emergency-rise-fund

To qualify your monthly household income, including UI benefits, has to be below twice (2x) the poverty level, and have lost work/income due to COVID-19.

Applications are accepted Sept. 14th through 7pm on Sept. 21st.

You can apply online here:
https://fund.uptogether.org/rise2

Or apply by phone:
(512) 714-6950

Additionally…

The existing RENT Assistance program applications are still ongoing for households making less than 80% of the MFI (Median Family Income). Providing up to 3 months of rent assistance.

August Financial Aid Opportunities for Austin Residents

Two opportunities became available in August for Austin residents.

RENT Assistance

This program is being periodically funded by the COA, last round of funding and applications was opened on August 19th, which may still have funds available, but is also somewhat first come first serve. There are income thresholds to qualify, and awards are decided via lottery.

Creative Workers Relief Grant

The Creative Worker Relief Grant is a direct result of advocacy on part of Austin’s Chapter of Soundgirls.org in partnership with IATSE Local 205 to earmark some of the CARES Act municipal funding for creative worker relief. It provides for up to a $2000 grant to cover expenses incurred due to COVID-19 loss of income from March 1st to August 17th. This program was definitely designed with live event professionals in mind, among many other disproportionately affected creative fields.

Apply online through August 28th at 5pm.

You can start/stop the application process at any time, so feel free to start it now so you can become familiar with the questions. The video webinar above and FAQ on their site are also excellent resources.

Additional eligibility questions can be fielded by:
Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts
Email:  
Call: 512-588-9971

For application process technical support:
Austin Better Business Bureau
Email: 
Call: 512-318-2683

Awards are to be split. 50% of them are based on a weighted matrix of vulnerability. The other 50% are lottery based. They are NOT based on how quickly you get your application in.

Thank You SoundGirls!
IATSE Local 205
Thank you IATSE Local 205!

TWC’s Lost Wage Assistance Program ($300 extra)

UPDATE: TWC Has reported that the last week that will pay the LWA $300 extra is the workweek ending Sept 5th. The Funds had to be requested weekly from FEMA and after 6 weeks FEMA denied Texas’s request.

The following was sent via email to claimants 8/22 to clarify the Lost Wage Assistance Program benefit Texas is enacting due to the presidential executive order round of funding. Especially note that if your reason for loss of work on your original application was not noted as COVID-19, your next payment request should give you an opportunity to change/correct that.

The FAQ at this time does not estimate how many weeks this extra benefit will exist. Press and other sources are estimating 3-5 weeks.

Understanding the Lost Wage Assistance Program

On August 20, 2020, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott authorized TWC  to submit the application for the additional $300 made available under President Trump’s Lost Wage Assistance Executive Order. TWC is working to implement this change as quickly as possible. 

To help you understand how this program may impact your benefits, we’ve compiled frequently asked questions on the Lost Wage Assistance Program.

What is the LWA program?
President Trump signed four Presidential Memorandums on Aug. 8, 2020, including one to offer enhanced unemployment insurance benefits of $300 per week. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continue to provide guidance to each state for the proper administration of the benefit. The Department of Workforce Services will continue to communicate the guidelines of the program as they are finalized by these federal agencies.

Who is eligible to receive the $300?
To be eligible for LWA benefits:

  1. Your weekly benefit amount must be $100 or more.
  2. You must receive at least $1 of benefits from one of the following programs:
    • Regular unemployment insurance
    • Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE)
    • Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX)
    • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
    • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
    • Extended Benefits (EB)
    • Shared Work
    • Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA)
  3. You must certify that you are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to disruptions caused by COVID-19.

LWA is not payable to individuals collecting Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA).

I did not certify that my claim was COVID-19 related when I first applied, can I do so now?
If you have not previously certified that your claim is COVID-19 related you will be given the opportunity to do so on your next payment request.

I’m on a shared work program, how do I certify that my reduced hours are COVID-19 related?
If you are on a shared work program, TWC will reach out to clarify if your reduction of hours is COVID-19 related.

How do I apply for the additional $300?
If you are already receiving benefits, no application is required. Continue requesting payments as normal. Our team is updating the system. Eligible claimants should receive the additional $300 a week on their first payment request on or after 8/23/2020.

Will the additional $300 be backdated?
Yes, the President’s Executive Order allows for additional $300 a week to be backdate to the week of August 1, 2020.

Will the additional $300 appear on my account?
Like the previous additional benefits, this amount will not be added to the weekly benefit amount visible on your account but will be added when deposited.

Why is it an additional $300?
This is the amount set forth in the Presidents Executive Order and agreed upon by the State of Texas.

If my weekly benefit amount is less than $100, do I receive the additional $300?
If you receive less than $100 a week of unemployment benefits you are not eligible to receive the additional $300.

Is the additional $300 paid per week?
Yes. Since TWC deposits payments every two weeks, eligible claimants will receive an extra $600 every two weeks.

I returned to work between 8/1 and 8/23, do I qualify for backdated payments?
Yes, if someone returned to work between 8/1/2020 and 8/23/2020 they may be eligible. We will review those claims and if needed reach out to those individuals.

Stamp Out Hunger with NALC and AFL-CIO

The following is a message from our sisters and brothers at AFL-CIO and the National Association of Letter Carriers:

Sisters, Brothers & Kin,

The need for food relief has never been greater and neither is our determination to help. Throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, the labor movement has stepped up to help union members and struggling families keep food on our tables. We’re doing what the labor movement does best: joining together in solidarity, lifting each other up and serving our communities.

The AFL-CIO is proud to partner again with the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) for the “Stamp Out Hunger” Food Drive campaign. Because of safety concerns, this year’s food drive was unable to happen as it usually does in May. This year’s campaign may be different because of the pandemic, but it is more important than ever.

NALC is asking members of the community to participate by donating food directly to food banks in their area.

Please go to nalc.org/food, select your state and find the food banks in your area.

In Solidarity,
Team AFL-CIO

Below are some central Texas food banks:

Central Texas Food Bank
6500 Metropolis Dr
Austin, TX 78744
http://centraltexasfoodbank.org/stampout

Round Rock Area Serving Center
1099 E Main St
Round Rock , TX 78664
https://www.rrasc.org/donate/

Bastrop County Emergency FP
806 Fayette St
Bastrop, TX 78602
https://www.bastropfoodpantry.org/donate/

Caldwell County Food Pantry
901 Bois D’Arc
Lockhart, TX 78644
https://www.caldwellfoodpantry.com/donate

The Caring Center
2000 Railroad Ave
Georgetown, TX 78626
https://www.caringplacetx.org/how-to-help/give/donate-online.html

Fredericksburg Food Pantry
701 Mustang
Fredericksburg, TX 78624
http://fbgfoodpantry.com

The Helping Center
1315 Broadway
Marble Falls, TX 78654
https://www.helpingcenter.org/#give

Lacare
507 W Bachanan Dr
Burnet, TX 78611
https://austincf.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/create?funit_id=2244

San Antonio Food Bank
5200 Enrique Barrerra Parkway
San Antonio, TX 78227
https://safoodbank.org/donate

Soundgirls of Austin and IATSE Local 205 to Mayor Adler

The City of Austin has taken measures during this unprecedented time to provide relief for both musicians and music venues via the Music Disaster Relief Fund. Sadly, this fund offers no support for the hardworking venue technicians whose behind-the-scenes efforts make live music events possible. Please sign this petition to let City Council know that production technicians such as lighting designers, sound engineers, and stage managers need to be included when it comes to aiding the Austin music scene and providing hope through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Sign the online petition.

Sample Letter:

To: Mayor Steve Adler
From: You

We recognize that protecting Austin’s musicians and music venues is extremely important. However, if the goal is to protect Austin’s music industry, one key element has been left out of Austin’s Music Disaster Relief Fund; live event technicians.

Whether an event is large or small, musicians cannot be seen or heard without the involvement and expertise of stage technicians. Production staff, including sound engineers, lighting designers, video engineers, and others, are integral to the success of live music performances. In fact, the quality of production can have a direct impact on the income a venue generates.

Production staff are often freelance and just as financially unstable as musicians. Like musicians and music venues, technicians are also in need of assistance to survive the health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19. Most affected are technicians who have been misclassified as contract labor causing their unemployment claims to be denied, delayed, or significantly reduced.

We realize these are extremely difficult times for everyone. However, in formulating help for performance-based arts, we ask that assistance is not limited to performers and venues only. Although professionally stage technicians strive to be invisible, we do not wish to be invisible within our community.

Please expand the Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund to include production staff who live in the Greater Austin Area and regularly work in local venues, and contribute to Austin being recognized as the Live Music Capital of the World.

Election Resources for July 14

The following post is a copy of what was sent via the membership email list.

This contains everything you should need to be prepared to vote on July 14. Please scroll all the way through. It has 3 parts, 

  1. voter resources
  2. voter deadlines
  3. union endorsements of candidates

RESOURCES

For a clear understanding of who’s on the July 14 Ballot and to print a sample ballot based on your address, Texas runoff election: Who’s on the ballot | The Texas Tribune

Polling places will NOT be at grocery stores. They will be a county facilities instead. To find out where your polling place is, check you are registered to vote, and check key election dates visit, Am I Registered?

There will also be new voting system,
Travis County Clerk – Meet Your New Voting System

To find out how Travis County is preparing for voting,
Texas July Runoff Election: What to know to vote | kvue.com

If you want to vote by mail, print off this application. It has to be received by July 2, 2020. https://countyclerk.traviscountytx.gov/images/pre/pdf_tc_elections_ABBM_2018.pdf

The League of Women Voters has a good piece on voting by mail here, League Of Women Voters Austin Area – Empowering voters. Defending democracy.

And, here is the Austin League of Women Voters Voter’s Guide with information on the candidates running for election,
https://lwvaustin.org/votersguide/LWVAA-VG-2020-07-ENG-final.pdf

More resources, 
Everything You Need to Vote – Vote.org
VOTE411

DEADLINES

Texas AFL-CIO and Austin Central Labor Council Endorsements

Endorsements are voted on by union members affiliated with their state and local AFL-CIO. 

Special election Senate District 14:
No action: Sarah Eckhardt and Eddie Rodriquez

U.S. Senate:
Dual endorsement MJ Hegar and Royce West

U.S. House runoffs:
District 3 Dual endorsement Sean McCaffity and Lulu Seikaly
District 10 Mike Siegel
District 13 No endorsement (Greg Sagan and Gus Trujillo)
District 17 David Anthony Jaramillo
District 24 Dual endorsement Kim Olson and Candace Valenzuela
District 31 Donna Imam

Statewide: Railroad Commissioner runoff:
Roberto “Beto” Alonzo

State Board of Education runoffs:
District 6 No endorsement (Kimberly McLeod and Michelle Palmer)

Texas Senate runoffs:
District 19 Xochil Pena Rodriguez
District 27 No endorsement (Sara Stapleton Barrera and Eddie Lucio, Jr.)

Texas House runoffs
District 26 No endorsement (L. Sarah DeMerchant and Suleman Lalani)
District 67 No endorsement (Tom Adlair and Lorenzo Sanchez)
District 100 Lorraine Birabil
District 119 No endorsement (Elizabeth “Liz” Campos and Jennifer Ramos)
District 138 Dual endorsement Akilah Bacy and Josh Wallenstein
District 142 Jerry Davis
District 148 Penny Shaw

Travis County runoffs:
County Court at Law 4 No Action Margaret Chen Kercher and Dimple Malhotra
District Attorney No Action Jose Garza and Margaret Moore
County Attorney No Action Laurie Eiserloh and Delia Garza
Commissioner’s Court Precinct 3 Valinda Bolton

Key

  • No action means affiliated local unions are free to endorse their own candidate.
  • No endorsement means the candidate did not seek endorsement from our state and local AFL-CIO. 
  • Dual endorsement means affiliated locals should support both candidates and leave it to individual members to choose which of the two endorsed candidates to vote for.

In Solidarity,
Rachel Magee, President.

City of Austin adds new Key Indicators COVID-19 dashboard

Austin Public Health released a dashboard that illustrates the key indicators for moving between risk stages and is now live at AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.

  • Stage 1 (Green): Zero (0) new COVID-19 hospital admissions in a 7-day period
  • Stage 2 (Blue): Average of less than 5 new COVID-19 hospital admissions in the MSA in 7-day period
  • Stage 3 (Yellow): Average of 5-19 new COVID-19 hospital admissions in the MSA in a 7-day period
  • Stage 4 (Light Orange): Average of 20-70 new COVID-19 hospital admissions in the MSA in a 7-day period
  • Stage 5 (Red): Average of 70 or more new COVID-19 hospital admissions in the MSA in a 7-day period 

The risk stages system created by Austin Public Health (APH) illustrates the regression and progress of several factors, including disease, healthcare, and public health on a seven day moving average. These key indicators will inform recommendations on the tightening or loosening of restrictions on physical distancing, mass gatherings, business operations, and other safety measures in the months ahead.
 
Austin-Travis County is currently in Level 3 – the yellow risk category. At this level, APH recommends individuals at high risk for serious illness shelter-in-place and telecommute or be reassigned to non-public facing roles. Individuals at lower risk for serious infections should minimize their interactions with individuals outside of their household.   
 
At all times and levels, APH continues to urge the community to continue: 

  • Practice social distancing 
  • Wear fabric face coverings in public 
  • Cover coughs and sneezes 
  • Wash hands often 
  • Avoid touching your face 
  • Clean commonly touched surfaces