NABET-CWA Bulletin, Update #2: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

We want to provide you with a status update regarding this national emergency, and continued measures we are working on to protect and defend our members and their rights. In recent days, there has been an increase in announcements from our various broadcast, cable and production employers regarding work assignments, workflow changes, production interruptions, as well as show/event cancellations. NABET-CWA national and local leaders are working cooperatively with those employers during this national health crisis. Below is the latest updated information:

NBC Sports

The NBC Sports Group intends to pay individuals who were scheduled for remote events during the next two weeks. The payment will be eight (8) hours straight-time for each scheduled work day, and is limited to work days that were previously scheduled but cancelled. Planned or anticipated overtime will not be paid. Scheduled “travel-only” days and per diem will not be paid. For Daily Hire employees, the Daily Benefit Payment will be included.

NBC Studio Shows

A number of studio shows are under a production hiatus as a result of the Coronavirus crisis. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers are both under a 2-week production hiatus, and NBC has committed to pay eight (8) hours straight-time for each scheduled work day, limited to work days that were previously scheduled but cancelled. In addition, live broadcasts of Saturday Night Live scheduled for March 28th and April 4th have been cancelled. The SNL crew will be paid their regular straight-time rate for each scheduled work day affected by this cancellation.

ABC Sports

Daily Hire technicians working for ABC Sports on broadcast or cable will be paid for cancelled sporting events that they were scheduled to work through April 5, 2020. These employees will receive a day of pay, at the ten (10) hour rate, for each scheduled event day. Only technicians who were scheduled for these events will be so paid. “Travel-only” days and per diem will not be paid. Contributions for annual vacation pay and retirement savings programs will not be included. The Company will pay the daily Payment In Lieu Of Benefits (PILOB) for the above-referenced days.

ABC Studio Shows

A number of studio shows are under a production hiatus as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The Tamron Hall Show is under a production hiatus, and ABC has committed to pay eight (8) hours straight-time for each scheduled work day, limited to work days that were previously scheduled but cancelled, through April 5, 2020. General Hospital is under a production hiatus beginning this week, and employees assigned to that production will be paid ten (10) hours straight-time for each scheduled work day, through April 5, 2020. The Company will also pay the daily Payment In Lieu Of Benefits (PILOB) for the above-referenced days.

ABC Studio Shows (Washington DC)

Daily Hires working on various studio shows in Washington, DC, will be paid for cancelled work days through April 5, 2020. These employees will receive a day of pay, at the eight (8) hour rate, for each scheduled day. The Company will also pay the daily Payment In Lieu Of Benefits (PILOB) for the above-referenced days.

Other Broadcast, Cable, and Production Operations

In many cases, work assignments and workflows must continue, but with changes in established methods of operation. NABET-CWA members assigned to “in-house” operations at network facilities, broadcast centers, television stations, and distribution facilities must be vigilant regarding social distancing, disinfecting, and the cleaning of work areas and equipment, as well as all other recommended prevention treatment protocols.

Individuals assigned to network and station newsgathering assignments are, in some cases, being assigned specific equipment and vehicles for their exclusive use, and being asked to take those vehicles and equipment home with them. Once again, follow all proper protocols, rules and procedures. If you have questions or concerns, contact your Local Union office.

Additional Resources

Unemployment Insurance

We all know unemployment insurance exists to provide us with income when we are separated from employment through no fault of our own. NABET-CWA members who are laid off or have been directed to stay home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and are not receiving wages for the time off, should file for unemployment online with their state agencies immediately. Many states have eliminated the “waiting period” so that you can receive payments quicker. States have also eliminated the requirement that you actively look for work, while the COVID-19 pandemic is still prevalent. The amount of your unemployment insurance payment will depend on how much you earned during the past five (5) quarters before the date you file. Moreover, if your hours have been reduced, you should still file for unemployment, as you may qualify for partial benefits. File online with your appropriate state agency, which is easily found by typing your state’s name and unemployment in your search browser.

Workers Compensation

If you are infected with the COVID-19 virus as a result of your job, i.e. exposed at work or in the field, you may qualify for workers compensation benefits. Workers comp is a state benefit, and if qualified, injured workers may be entitled to 1) salary replacement; 2) medical benefits; 3) physical therapy; and 4) payments for permanent partial or total loss of the use of a limb, organ, etc. You can start the process by telling your manager or HR, after you have tested positive and you believe it is work related, to file an injury report for workers comp purposes. Notice to the employer is a requirement, but the notice does not actually start your claim process.

If you think you have contracted COVID-19 through exposure at work, you should seek the assistance of a reputable workers comp attorney to help you file your claim with the state. The assistance of a good attorney from the start can make a huge difference in the outcome of your claim. Your Local may have a referral for you.   You can also check with your labor council, which may have a list of referrals.

Union Plus Program

Check the website www.unionplus.org for useful information and updates.

If you are a participant in the Union Plus Mortgage, Credit Card, Personal Loan, or supplemental insurance programs, you may be eligible for additional hardship assistance. Please visit the ‘Hardship Help’ section of the Union Plus website for eligibility requirements: https://www.unionplus.org/hardship-help

Your Union is doing everything possible to minimize the negative impact of this national health crisis on our members. There are no easy solutions to the myriad of problems that will arise. Many situations are unique to this crisis, and must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

NABET-CWA is in full support of all government-sponsored initiatives and legislative efforts to provide relief and assistance, such as: free coronavirus testing, expanded FMLA provisions, unemployment benefits, food assistance, as well as paid emergency sick leave. The bipartisan Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) is a good start to providing relief to workers, however, the provisions on the table for emergency paid leave benefits may not apply to displaced broadcast industry workers because of the requirements for days worked in order to qualify. Broadcast, cable and production workers shouldn’t be left behind in the fight against COVID-19. We need a special Emergency Coronavirus Economic Support Benefit geared to include workers who have work assignments that get canceled due to the coronavirus. Please join our letter writing campaign to Congress:

CLICK HERE TO TELL CONGRESS TO INCLUDE DISPLACED BROADCAST, CABLE, AND PRODUCTION WORKERS IN RELIEF PACKAGE

Uncertainty about the near future is what our society and our country are facing currently. We encourage you to ignore rumors, and focus on factual information. If you have specific concerns, or reports of situations that the Union should be aware of, please contact your Local Union Office.

We wish the best of health to you and your families during this difficult period – and always.

In Solidarity,

NABET-CWA

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