Cinematographers Guild Tells Members: No Charge for Coronavirus Testing

“MPI has confirmed that testing for COVID-19 will be covered by the plan without co-pays or co-insurance,” the ICG said in a message to its 9,000 members.

The ICG operates as Local 600 of the International Alliance of Theaterical Stage Employees. It’s the largest IATSE local in Hollywood and represents the below-the-line camera crews along with publicists. The letter was signed by interim national president Dejan Georgevich, national executive director Rebecca Rhine and nine other officers and executives.

The missive offered reassurance to plan participants, adding that talks are underway to address the issue of members maintaining eligibility amid the current suspension of most productions.

“Financially the plans are stable, and currently MPI maintains over one year of reserves to meet benefit obligations,” the guild leaders said. “The combined pressure created by reduced contributions and a volatile stock market will have an impact as we move forward. Ultimately, the employers have contractual responsibility for funding core benefits, should that ever be required.”

“Naturally, many members are concerned about their current benefit hours and their ability to maintain their health insurance coverage as production decreases. That topic is at the top of the IATSE MPI Board Members and Local 600 Leadership Team’s list of concerns. It is too soon to provide answers to the many questions we all have, but discussions are underway.”

The massage also said, “We are also aware that many productions have suspended, delayed or cancelled production indefinitely. This includes all types of productions employing our members in scripted, non-scripted, sports, broadcast and commercials. In many cases, production is paying regular crew members who are out sick or who are unable to work because of delays, in other cases they are paying people during a two-week break, in others people are simply being laid off.  The practices are not universal and those productions who are paying are doing so regardless of whether it is contractually required.”

The message said many cancellations, including live events, theater, trade shows, and sporting events have already “devastated” fellow IATSE members who survive on this work, including sports broadcast members and others who are already affected.

“The question is no longer whether this occurs, but how lengthy and significant the disruption is,” it added. “We are also aware of newly announced or pending actions by various state and federal agencies including possible quarantines, reductions in waiting times for Unemployment Insurance (already implemented in California) and possible federal legislation that mandates paid sick time.