the american rescue plan:  good news for entertainment-industry workers

By Barrow Group Staff / April 22, 2021


Finally, some good news!  On Thursday, March 11, 2021 President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law. This long-awaited, comprehensive COVID-19 relief legislation is a victory for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) members.

What does the plan mean for working people across the nation:

  • It extends unemployment insurance. The pandemic unemployment programs that were set to expire on March 14, including the current $300 weekly supplement, have been renewed for another six months through September 6. In addition, the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits received by households making less than $150,000 will not be subject to federal tax.
  • It provides $1,400 direct payments to individuals making less than $75,000 and married couples making under $150,000, as well as dependents. Partial payments will also be received by those making under $80,000 and couples under $160,000.
  • It fully subsidizes healthcare for those who have not yet returned to work. The law provides a 100% subsidy of COBRA through the end of September, so members can remain on multiemployer health plans. Individuals will not have to pay any premiums for six months. The subsidy is also available to those who did not elect COBRA coverage during their original election period, as well as those who initially elected COBRA but let their coverage lapse.
  • For local unions with their own health plans, the employer or health insurance plan will be reimbursed for the full amount of COBRA premiums through a refundable payroll tax credit.  For those not eligible for COBRA, the bill also fully subsidizes Affordable Care Act coverage for two years for those on unemployment insurance and allows more individuals to qualify for subsidies.
  • It makes 501(c)(5) labor unions eligible for Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans. This means that local unions that have faced significant COVID-19-related declines in revenues can finally get the same federal assistance being offered to businesses and continue to provide critical support to their members.
  • It protects pension plans and delivers generational relief for the multiemployer pension system. $86 billion in financial assistance is provided to struggling multiemployer pension plans, to cover all benefits due through 2051, with no cuts. This delivers long-needed support to troubled plans, without jeopardizing health plans.  Ultimately this law has guaranteed the retirement security promised to workers for the long-term.
  • It provides a total of $445 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Corporation for Public Broadcasting; and an additional $1.25 billion for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program, which originated from the Save Our Stages campaign.

The American Rescue Plan Act provides relief to entertainment workers who remain out of work through no fault of their own and economic support until a safe return to work is possible, while also beginning to set the stage for the recovery of the industry.

Watch IATSE President Matthew D. Loeb for the full story. 


Topics: COVID-19, unemployment-benefits, IATSE, Film-and-Television, American-Rescue-Plan, Entertainment-Industry

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