In an ongoing effort to resume Hollywood production as soon as possible, Reprem Adam Schiff has expressed strong support for the protection of entertainment industry workers.
“The safety of workers must be universal,” he said during a one-hour virtual town hall meeting with SAG-Aftra president Gabriel Carteris and IATSE international president Matt Loeb on Tuesday. More than 5,000 people watched the event, which was broadcast live.
Schiff, a ten-term Democratic congressman who includes Hollywood and Burbank, expressed fears that many states have relaxed home-to-home orders without being able to take additional action. Earlier in the day, he cited the testimony of Dr. Anthony Fawcett, one of the key members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, who warned senators that states and cities would face serious consequences if they opened too soon.
“We need to listen to experts like Dr. Fawcett,” Schiff said.
Schiff noted the highly measured reopening success in South Korea and Singapore that the United States should follow as
Carteris, whose union has 160,000 actors, noted that his members often face challenges in working closely with each other. Lube, who heads a union with 150,000 workers working line-down, stressed that the same conditions apply to many crew members on sets like makeup artists, food service workers and medics. Both unions are working with employers on the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee to uphold these guidelines.
“We need to make sure we can come up with uniform safety standards,” Loeb said.
“We’re ready to go back to work,” Carteris said. “We were among the first people to be infected with the virus and could be among those who came back – only we work in large numbers and very close to where PPE cannot always be used.”
Both presidents praised Schiff for his efforts to include freelancers as part of the Care Act passed in March to provide unemployment insurance benefits to workers, including multiple employers.
Schiff said he would vehemently oppose Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s attempt to include employers’ legal immunity in federal aid packages – meaning they would not be able to sue if infected with the epidemic after returning to work. He added, “I don’t want the staff to be in that position.”
Schiff asserted that he was pushing for pay-check security provisions that would enable employees to retain health coverage, saying “hiring people is more expensive.”
Schiff added that the crisis has reduced the lack of support among most Americans for cutting Republican proposals such as Social Security benefits. “Strict rights positions are deeply obsolete,” he added.
Schiff is a buzz rod for criticism among conservatives. He chairs the House Intelligence Committee and leads the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
The House Democrats unveiled their latest bill Tuesday when the town hall event was aimed at washing away the effects of the epidemic on the economy and health care system. Party leaders are expected to vote on the package on Friday,