Workplace Behavior

Important message for all members and referents:

We cannot stress enough how important it is for every member and referent to read and adhere to the message below. While this may come as “new” information to some, it has always been in place and will continue to be in place.

Personal relationships are private and as such it is none of our business who is sleeping with who. If it is regarding you, and your significant other then, please leave it at home. There should be no comments on who you think (or know) is sleeping with who at work. There is simply no place for this in the workplace.

There is no acceptable situation for any comments to be made regarding a person’s appearance unless it is pertaining to the dress code and that conversation should be had by a department head.  Your opinions on someone’s body (or body parts) should be kept to yourself.  If you feel the comment is considered flattering, it still should not be said.

You should refer to someone by name, title, or stated pronoun.

Purposefully continuing to touch someone after they have requested you to stop is considered harassment regardless of your intent. No means no. From time-to-time physical contact with another worker will happen given our jobs however everyone should feel comfortable and safe at our workplace.

Innuendos are not appropriate in the workplace and should be kept to yourself. Any thought you may have that could imply a sexual act are not acceptable.

Saying or acting in these ways could result in you not working in the future. This is not a threat but a reality of what could happen. We do not want to see anyone out of work for something they did not have to say or do.

Local 26 does not tolerate retaliation for complaints and if you are found guilty of retaliation you could be barred from the local.

The employer may take their own action in all workplace rules/laws.  We will always represent our members and referents to make sure all punishments are fair, for just cause, and proportionate to the offense.

If you have any question as to if any actions could violate the above guidelines, please reach out to any department head/steward, the employer, the local’s office, the executive board, or the international at the soonest time you feel safe to speak to someone about it.  If you need to remove yourself from the situation to feel safe do so, but do not leave the job site.

Local 26 is taking steps to stop sexual harassment in the workplace.

If you feel unsafe in our workplace because of the actions of an individual, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Department Heads, the Employer, Executive Board or the IATSE’s Hotline 844-422-9273. If you have travelled outside of our jurisdiction to work for another Local, the hotline or the IATSE Safety app can connect you with the leadership of that jurisdiction. It is available through the Apple and Android.

We want every referent and member to have a safe place to work.

IATSE Local 26’s nondiscrimination and misconduct policies apply to all members, referents, probationary referents, and office staff. Stagehands refers to this collective group. We cannot stress enough how important it is for everyone to feel safe, respected, and protected by Local 26.

Misconduct will not be tolerated be it from a stagehand, Employer, Vendor, or anyone else on the jobsite.  Local 26 will not tolerate retaliation against anyone who, in good faith, reports or provides information about suspected misconduct.

Any stagehand who retaliates against anyone involved in an investigation will be subjected to disciplinary action, up to and including removal from the Referral List.

Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, and Misconduct should be reported as the safety issues that they are.

The following is a list of FAQ. We will do our best to update as more questions arise.

9.  Misconduct. Any person who engages in gross misconduct, extreme misbehavior, creates a disturbance, or engages in disorderly, abusive, or threatening conduct at the referral hall, online, or at a worksite or who intentionally interferes with or disrupts the administration of the referral procedure will be subject, at the discretion of the Union’s Business Agent, to a suspension from the referral list until the Executive Board can decide on disciplinary action. The department head or duly appointed union representative at the venue where the misconduct occurs will file a written report to the Executive Board detailing the misconduct or misbehavior. This report will include names and contact information of any witnesses, participants, and/or affected individuals.

11. There shall be no discrimination by the Union or any of its members against any referent because of their race, sex, age, disability, color, national origin, religion, creed, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran status, or any other protected class or on the basis of Union membership or non- membership (as long as Federal or State Right to Work laws exist), or placement on the Referral List.

The side of good. The main purpose of a union is to protect the workers. We strive to protect the targets of abuse and harassment. We also try to help rehabilitate and educate people that have done something wrong but wish to make up for it.

Local 26 has a duty or fair representation. We do our best to defend the person even when we cannot defend the action. That does not mean we tolerate bad behavior. It means that we investigate thoroughly, practice progressive discipline, and encourage education as part of the rehabilitation process. All disciplinary actions must have just cause and be proportional to the misconduct.

Any Employer that chooses to take action against anyone under our protection will be held to those same standards.

No. Not unless you give us permission.

 Best case scenario there will be witnesses, a camera, or situation where we can site a third party could have seen the incident. If we begin to investigate and are unable to proceed without risking the bad actor realizing who filed the complaint, we will stop and discuss it with you before we proceed.

There are times when you will have to choose between staying anonymous and action being taken. We will never decide for you. We will support you.

 Follow the same steps you would use to report any other safety issue.

  1. If in immediate danger, first clear the area
  1. Report to the Department Head
  1. Report to the Employer/Vendor on site
  1. Report to the Local

West Michigan Stagehands

Office 616-742-5526

Call Steward 616-808-1892

  1. Report to IATSE Safety Hotline

IATSE Safety Hotline:



If you have travelled outside of our jurisdiction to work for another Local, the hotline or the IATSE Safety app can connect you with the leadership of that jurisdiction. It is available through the Apple and Android.

DO NOT LEAVE THE JOBSITE without permission from the employer. Labor law is clear, you cannot be punished for refusing to do something unsafe. Step to the side and start up the chain of command.

Walking off a call is a 30-day suspension according to our referral procedure.

Article 7

  1. Leaving Early. Should a referent need to be replaced on a call while on site, the referent will notify their department head or steward who will make necessary arrangements with the call steward for a suitable replacement. If a referent fails to obtain approval from the employer for an early departure from a call, the referent will be suspended from the referral list for thirty (30) days for each occurrence. 

The Business Agent handles the day to day issues of the Local. If you are more comfortable with another member of the Executive Board, we are here for you. The Local’s Office Staff (616-742-5526) and the Call Stewards (616-808-1892) have contact information for everyone on the Board or you can drop us a line on the Contact page.

Stan Sacha is our Member-At-Large (and Head Carpenter at DeVos Place), his duty is to represent the interests of the members (and referents) of the Local. If you are unsure if you want to pursue action, he is a good resource to talk it out.

You do not have to reveal to the anyone why you would like to speak to someone on the Board, but please do relay if it is time sensitive so the Office Staff/Call Steward can give you options if any individual is unable to respond right away.

Local 26 is not the Employer and is limited in our actions. We must have complaints in writing. We will help you write out a report or take notes and have you sign it. The basic facts we need are:

When – The date and at least a rough idea of time

Where – On the Job, Online, which Event

Who – Who was involved? Who could have witnessed it?

What – What happened? What was said?


Whether you are first time department head or you just feel out of your depth, remember that we are in this together. You do not have to wait for everything to go wrong before you ask for help. We are available by call, text, and email. Specify if it is time sensitive.

This applies to someone making a report to you as well as someone asking you to represent them.

The Local’s Office Staff (616-742-5516) and the Call Stewards (616-808-1892) have contact information for everyone on the Board or you can drop us a line on the Contact page.

Keep calm.

Invoke your Weingarten Rights!

Local 26 does it’s best to defend the person even when we can’t defend the action.

We take our duty of representation seriously. We will make sure that everyone is given a fair chance to tell their side of the story, a proper investigation is conducted, and that actions are proportional.

Local 26 will conduct a prompt and thorough investigation that ensures due process for all parties, whenever management receives a complaint about sexual harassment, discrimination, threats of violence, inappropriate behavior, etc. or otherwise knows of possible sexual harassment occurring. Local 26 will keep the investigation confidential to the extent possible. We will not release the name of who filed the report without their permission. If the incident or behavior is tied to the jobsite, we will keep the Employer informed.

Employers have greater power to take immediate action. They can immediately remove some one from a job and permanently ban them from certain events or venues. This can include venue staff, vendors, and attendees. In fact, if the Employer fails to protect a stagehand we can consider taking action against the Employer.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and is unlawful under federal, state, and (where applicable) local law. Sexual harassment includes harassment on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, self-identified or perceived sex, gender expression, gender identity and the status of being transgender.

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome conduct which is either of a sexual nature, or which is directed at an individual because of that individual’s sex when:

  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, even if the reporting individual is not the intended target of the sexual harassment;
  • Such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment; or
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting an individual’s employment.

A sexually harassing hostile work environment includes, but is not limited to, words, signs, jokes, pranks, intimidation, or physical violence which are of a sexual nature, or which are directed at an individual because of that individual’s sex. Sexual harassment also consists of any unwanted verbal or physical advances, sexually explicit derogatory statements or sexually discriminatory remarks made by someone which are offensive or objectionable to the recipient, which cause the recipient discomfort or humiliation, which interfere with the recipient’s job performance.

Sexual harassment also occurs when a person in authority tries to trade job benefits for sexual favors. This can include hiring, promotion, continued employment or any other terms, conditions or privileges of employment. This is also called quid pro quo harassment.

Example 1:

Tour Person offers these instructions: Get on your knees, pull down his pants, get him off as quick as possible. Don’t forget to give him a wet wipe so he can clean himself up as he walks away.

Sounds very inappropriate, yes? Now let’s look at the context. The instruction was being given to a dresser that had to help an actor with a quick change. The actor was wearing a prisoner’s outfit over the base of his next costume as a priest. The dresser would be removing the outer layer of pants while the actor changes their jacket for a priest’s vestments. The wet wipe was to remove the prison makeup.

There was no way for the carpenters that overheard the instructions to know what was going on and it is completely understandable they reported it to the Head Carp.

Example 2:

Stagehand A congratulates Stagehand B on news of new baby. Generally, it is a nice thing to do. Using the phrase “Hey, heard you knocked up that Ho you’ve been shacked up with.” Turns it into a very insulting and inappropriate comment.

Example 3:

Stagehand A is coiling cable when suddenly grabbed around the middle and hauled to the side by Stagehand B.

Was the grabbing appropriate or not? It depends on the reason for it. Was A about to be struck by a falling/rolling/safety hazard? Was A simply in the path of B and B felt it was easier to physically move them rather than ask? Did B explain why they put hands on A?

The motivation and perspectives would need to be discussed.

Depends. Are they commenting on whether you are dressed appropriately for the situation?  Could be a necessary awkward conversation.

Are they commenting on whether that think what you are wearing is attractive to them? Not necessary or welcome conversation that should be reported.

What is appropriate changes based on venue, event, job position, temperature, safety requirements, and many other factors.



CallSteward 3.0 Tutorial

Updated 1/9/23

Written by Jessica Westra (callsteward user since 2013)

Posted by Beth Snyder because technology is not always agreeable


The first thing to do is get yourself logged in. The identity system is based on email addresses. The email address you provided on your application for the referral list is used to create your profile. If you have not applied to the list, you cannot access the system. Please note this tutorial uses screen captures from a desktop web browser. Things will look different on a handheld device or app but the functions will be the same.

To access your account, go to and select “Get New Password”.  It will send you an email from with a link to set a new password. Please also tell your mail server that the email address it came from is not junk email.

If that does not work, chances are that your email is incorrectly listed at the office. We can fix that. Send an email to from the email address you want associated with your profile letting us know the issue. We can save your updated email address and send you a reset link from We CANNOT create a password for you.

Step 1:

Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Getting angry doesn’t help.

Yes, this is the best option for a dispatch system we have.

Yes, it is being updated all the time.

No, we are not going back to notebooks with pencil and pen.

Step 2:

Log out of the program on all devices and browsers. Don’t just navigate away. Use the actual log out function.

Then close and reopen the browser.

Step 3:

Clear your cache. (that link shows current how to)

Clearing the cache and cookies from a web browser is an important first-step for almost any troubleshooting for internet browsing. The ‘cache’ is a tool used by your internet browser to speed up the page loading process. However, sometimes it can cause a problem when websites are updated and developed as files saved in the cache may conflict with what’s actually coded into the website. Clearing cache and cookies is a way we can be sure that any issues you may come across are actually something wrong with the website, rather than inconsistencies caused by using different browsers.

Step 4:

Ask for help. The call stewards may be able to help but sometimes we have no choice but to go to the site creator:

CallSteward App Support:

Apple CallStewardApp Link

It will teach you how to install, clear the cache, and reinstall the app on Apple devices.

Android CallSteward App Link

It will teach you how to install, clear the cache, and reinstall the app on Android devices.

When you have logged in, it will then open on your Schedule.

There is a crosshatch or three parallel horizontal line in the upper left corner. This will determine if you see just the icons or the icons and words on the side navigation pane. Generally, if you are full screen on a computer it will show the icons and words but if you are using a phone, it may be easier to just see the icons.

Unconfirmed calls will always appear at the top of the list on your Schedule. When you confirm an event, it will move down the list and appear in order of date. It will ask you to confirm your decision, so do not stress about hitting the wrong button. Declined calls will be recorded under the Declined section.

When you first get started, you will receive job offers as text messages. Our goal is to get everyone into the system so we can send SMS messages instead of hundreds of individual text messages.

Messages from cannot be directly responded to like text messages. You must either log into the site or contact 616-808-1892 with your response. 

SMS Messages can be confusing for single day. For example, this arena call is listed as starting at 9am and ending at 2am because we don’t know when exactly you will be cut, who will be on show, and who will be brought back early. Most people will have a break between the load in and load out. We like to tell you when the load out will start. The system is inconsistent about whether that note comes before or after the job offer.

It is easier to see and understand your schedule in the system.

You cannot accept part of a job and turn down the rest without a discussion with the call steward. If the job spans more than one day, you may receive separate messages. The rule still holds. We need to follow the referral procedure, maintain consistency, and fill all the calls.

You can decide how you want to receive offers. If you’d prefer email offers, you can select it under Settings. This can be very helpful if you break your phone.

By default, the site will SMS (text) you job offers. You can choose email if you prefer it (or your phone is broken). This is completely your choice. Either way you have 12 hours to respond to a job offer that is more than 48 hours from the start time or deadline to fill. The first time the call steward sends you a message from CS3 it will be followed up by a text from the call steward phone 616-808-1892. Once we have confirmed you are getting the messages, we will only notify you from CS3. Please review the IATSE Local 26 Referral Procedure. Changes were made in 2021 regarding response time and several other things.

To see the address of where you are working, click the pin under Job Location. At this time, we cannot list rooms assignments and location details under Job Locations. DeVos Place has 26 meeting rooms, 4 Ballrooms, 3 Exhibit halls, multiple lobbies, a skywalk, and patios, there are too many combinations to create a venue listing for each one. For any event in the DeVos Place Convention Center we will list the room assignment in the Event Name. For Example: “Wolverine – Ballroom B” or “City Commission – RO A-F”.

Select the Event to see more information.

Comments will list onsite contacts, parking information, rally points, and anything else we can tell you.

Employer Requests will continue to list show call, dress code, and special tools requests. For venues with Health Surveys the link will be listed here.

View Calls will show you everyone else on the call you have been offered. Personal opinion, not my favorite layout. The relevant information is there. We have inquired about sorting options. There is a different view for Stewards that will be covered in a different tutorial.

We can set priority for skills so that they will always be listed in this order. This in NO WAY determines how a call is filled. It is simply how the positions are listed.

  1. Heads
  2. Specialized Skills (A2, Riggers, Fly, Matrix, etc.)
  3. Wardrobe
  4. Show call Positions (Deck, Followspot, Houselights, etc.)
  5. Licensed Skills (Fork, Scissor, etc.)
  6. Hands (Carp, Elex, etc.)
  7. Other (Production, Replaced, etc.)

It’s a work in progress and may rearrange or add tiers. Anyone who has been in this industry for more than five minutes knows that the most vital role changes from show to show and sometimes throughout the course of a show. We will not participate in any arguments that one department is always more important than another department.

You can see what calls we know are coming up by checking the IA calendar on this site to see what we know is going to happen. We gather this from public calendars and try our best to keep up to date. We do not know how for certain the labor needs for a show until we get the labor request from an employer. Those requests are entered into callsteward’s calendar.

CallSteward’s Calendar shows the events we have received the labor requests for. We do not get to control how much notice employers give us nor when events will pop up with no notice.

You can select events to see more information about them.

Your Profile should be reviewed. If any of your contact information is incorrect, please change it and NOTIFY THE OFFICE! We like to make sure you are getting your paychecks and mailings. If you are a member, you MUST notify the Secretary-Treasurer with any new contact information as the most current on file is where official communications are sent. Select Edit Profile to make changes.

Remember that your login is tied to your email address. If you have issues with changing it, our office can help.

Pay attention to the red text. If you want to receive text messages your cell phone number MUST include the area code. ALWAYS use the SAVE button after making changes!

You can change your password. We cannot. The best we can do is send you a reset link. If that does not work, we will have to turn the issue over to the support tech. They are happy to help and can fix issues we cannot.

You do not have permission to change your own skills. Call stewards are allowed to give the following basic skill checks: Audio, Carpenter, Electrician, Hand, Loader, Projection, Prop, Pusher, Replaced, and Student. Everything else must be approved by the Business Agent. Some may require proof of certification (Fork, CDL, etc.) or a skill evaluation (Weight Loading, Board Op, etc.). If you have skills that we are unaware of please reach out to the Business Agent.

New Referents please note that “Orientation Complete” is a listed skill. That way the office knows they can move you as soon as you have the appropriate paperwork and Probation Evaluations.

Side Note: The Probation Evaluations can be filled out online:

Don’t forget to Save Changes!

PLEASE. PLEASE. PLEASE. Update your availability. If you have a regular schedule at another job or are in school, enter the hours here. We will not offer you work that conflicts with it, only jobs you are available to work.

Keep in mind travel time. If you are leaving one job at 5pm, you can’t start the next at 5pm.

Load outs frequently go past midnight. If you want the Monday arena call, don’t block yourself by starting a vacation at 12am on Tuesday.

ALWAYS use the SAVE button after making changes!

You can decide if you prefer a 12 or 24-hour clock. It will not affect how anyone else sees it.


By default, the site will SMS (text) you job offers. You can choose email if you prefer it (or your phone is broken). This is completely your choice. Either way you have 12 hours to respond to a job offer that is more than 48 hours from the start time or deadline to fill. The first time the call steward sends you a message from CS3 it will be followed up by a text from the call steward phone 616-808-1892. Once we have confirmed you are getting the messages, we will only notify you from CS3. Please review the IATSE Local 26 Referral Procedure. Changes were made in 2021 regarding response time and several other things.

Note from Beth: If you cannot open the link to the Referral Procedure, you do not have an account for the IA26 website. Please scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Request Account”. We will approve you for a login as soon as possible. Logins are available to all members and referents who have worked at least one call.

Reach out if you are having trouble maneuvering the site.  This is new for all of us.

From Beth: You should be used to seeing this, and it still holds true… Be safe. Be well. And as always… WASH YOUR HANDS!

Puerto Rico Disaster Relief

Sisters, Brothers, Kin –

The last few days have been difficult for our kin in Puerto Rico. The devastation caused by Hurricane Fiona in has left many needing supplies as they start to recover.

If you are able to contribute to our union family as they start the long process of rebuilding, the AFL-CIO has provided a list of supplies needed below.

Thank you all for your generosity and support in these hurricane relief efforts for our union family.

Here are the most urgently needed Items, NOT AVAILABLE ON THE ISLAND:

*All items should be new and in the original packaging


  • Inflatable mattresses
  • Linens (bed sheets)
  • Towels
  • Toilet paper
  • Paper towels
  • Solar lanterns
  • All batteries, but especially “D”
  • Solar or battery fans – small
  • Gasoline containers
  • Insect repellant
  • Portable power generators
  • Propane tanks
  • Canvas and other union convention bags for distributing items

Adult Items:

  • Medical alcohol
  • Hand sanitizer
  • First aid kits

Children’s Items:

  • Baby formula
  • Child safe insect repellent

Cleaning Supplies:

  • Bleach
  • Cleaning kits (flooding)
  • Gloves
  • Spray pumps


IATSE Local 26 will ship any donations collected at our venues or our Local’s office at 931 Bridge St NW Grand Rapids MI 49504.

All items should be new and in the original packaging, and may be shipped or delivered to one of the following locations, being operated by members of the Seafarers International Union:

Houston:Mike Russo
625 N York Street
Houston TX 77003
Jacksonville:Ashley Nelson
5100 Belfort Road
Jacksonville FL 32256
Philadelphia:Joe Baselice
2604 S 4th Street
Philadelphia PA 19148
Port Everglades:Kris Hopkins
1221 S Andrews Avenue
Ft Lauderdale FL 33316

Monetary Donations:

Disaster relief donations should be made payable to the “Walsh/Di Tolla/Spivak Foundation” and mailed to:

The Walsh/Di Tolla/Spivak Foundation c/o IATSE
207 W. 25th St., 4th Fl.
New York, NY 10001

In Solidarity,


Painted Puerto Rico state flag on uprooted tree in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Health Insurance 101: Part Two


In this installment, we’re going to concentrate on who you should call for what kind of help. Your health insurance company is an invaluable resource, but they can’t help you with everything. Knowing when to call them, when to call the National Benefit Fund, and when to call your doctor will save everyone time and frustration.

Things you should call your health insurance company about:

  • Questions on medical benefits
  • Questions about claims
  • If you acquire another health insurance policy that will be primary to the one you have through the IA
  • Whether or not a certain procedure is covered (always get a procedure code from your doctor!)
  • Whether or not a prior authorization has been received and/or approved for a procedure such as an MRI
  • If a certain provider is participating in network
  • If you receive an Explanation of Benefits for a medical procedure you do not remember having

Things you should call the National Benefit Fund about:

  • Adding/deleting someone to or from your policy
  • Questions about premium payments or to make a premium payment
  • What benefits are offered and how much they will cost you
  • When you become eligible for health insurance
  • When you are allowed to make changes to your policy

Things you should call your doctor (or a hospital) about:

  • Anything to do with medical billing, paying medical bills, or making payment arrangements
  • Why certain tests were ordered or performed
  • If you need refills on your medications
  • Making appointments for medical services


It’s important to know that your insurance company has no way to see how much if anything you have paid toward a medical bill. All they can see is what your responsibility as a member will be for any given claim. When you receive an Explanation of Benefits from your insurance company, it is not a bill. It is simply a statement detailing how much the provider charges without insurance, how much the negotiated discount for those who do have insurance is, how much (if anything) the insurance company paid the provider, and how much (if anything) you as the patient are responsible for paying.

For example: You see your doctor because you hit your thumb with a hammer. The doctor charges $200 for that office visit if you don’t have insurance. Because you do have insurance, the negotiated rate (which the doctor is required to accept as payment in full) is $150. Under your policy, you have a deductible and coinsurance as we discussed in the first installment of this series. Let’s say you’ve met your deductible already, so you’re paying 20% coinsurance. You are responsible for paying the doctor 20% of $150, or $30. The insurance company pays the remaining $120 to the doctor.

If you paid the doctor $30 at the time of the office visit, your insurance company does not know that. So you will receive an EOB stating your member liability is $30. Since you already paid that, great! File the EOB and go on with your life. But if you paid nothing at the time of service, this is your heads up you will be receiving a bill from the doctor soon.

If you are going to call your insurance company about a claim you see on an EOB, make sure you know the date of service! The statement date on the EOB is sort of helpful, but the customer service representative on the phone must look up claims by date of service. The first page of your EOB is a summary. The following pages are details of each claim that has processed since your last statement. Go to those details for the information your insurance company needs to help you.

You should also be aware that providers may bill you on a monthly basis, but they submit claims to the insurance company by date of service for the most part. So you may be looking at a bill that says you owe $174.38, but your insurance company has three claims for three different dates of service that together add up to that total amount. They also cannot see the bill you were sent, as that is purely between you and your provider.

The I.A.T.S.E. National Benefit Funds are the organization that oversees your health insurance policy among other things. They are who put together the packages from which you may choose your level of coverage. They are who informs the insurance company what package you’ve chosen and how many people are on your policy along with their personal information. They are who you must contact to change your address, to add a new person to your policy, to remove a person from your policy, and to pay your insurance premium.

Anything to do with your policy itself must be addressed with the NBF. There is a link to their website at the bottom of every page of this website.

Each of our employers pay a percentage on top of your gross wages into the Benefit Funds according to their collective bargaining agreement, or in the case of those who use an outside payroll company such as UTP, the payroll company contributes through its agreement with the Funds. When it comes time to pay your quarterly premium, the NBF sends you a statement detailing how much money has been contributed on your behalf and how much (if any) you will need to pay for the premium cost at your chosen level of insurance coverage.

Your insurance company itself has nothing whatsoever to do with what benefit packages are available to you, how much they cost, or what is covered under them. Think of it like this: When you go grocery shopping for your family, the grocery store offers a wide variety of options. You choose food for your family from what is available, pay the price the store charges, and feed your family. It’s up to you if you charge anyone for that food or not, or how much you will charge. Same thing when the NBF (or any employer) shops at the insurance company.

One last thing for this installment… coverage options.

National Health Care Reform says all health insurance policies offered by employers must have a basic minimum level of coverage. Anything more than that is up to the employer (in our case, the NBF) to offer and decide how much it will cost. A basic health insurance policy will have professional (doctors) and facility (hospitals). From there, pharmacy (prescription), dental, vision, hearing, and a variety of other options can be added, most often at additional cost.

Some employers choose to have all forms of coverage through a single insurance company. Others choose different companies for different types of insurance. And even if a health insurance company handles all the types of insurance on your policy, they often have benefit managers for specific items.

For example, with our policies. Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield carries our professional and facility insurance. CVS/Caremark has our pharmacy coverage. I’m a little fuzzy on the names for our vision and dental coverage because I never had them, but I know they are through other companies as well.

Where I have my current insurance, my professional, facility, pharmacy, dental, and vision insurance are all covered under the same insurance company’s umbrella and I use the same card for each of them, but there are benefit managers for the different types. So while my prescription coverage is through my health insurance (Company A) the actual benefit is managed by Company B. Likewise my dental is managed by Company C, and my vision by Company D. If your employer, as the NBF has, chooses to use different insurance companies for the various types, you may have several different insurance cards (for example, the CVS/Caremark card for prescriptions).

It can be confusing, but the good news is if you’re not sure who exactly has your coverage for a certain category you can call the NBF to find out. Your health insurance company may or may not know, so it’s best to check with the NBF to save time and phone calls.

Health Insurance 101


What is health insurance?

It seems like this is a silly question, but it’s really not. Health insurance is something everyone should have, many people need, and not everyone has access to. It’s a contract typically between an employer and an insurance company under which employees can have various medical procedures paid in part by the insurance company in exchange for paying a set amount for the policy.

Clear as mud, right? Let’s try to make that easier. We are going to concentrate on employer policies in this series since that is where the workers of Local 26 get their insurance, although there are certainly individually purchased policies as well.

Insurance companies offer a wide variety of options to employers to choose when putting together a benefit package for their employees. Depending on what choices the employer makes, those options are bundled into policies employees can choose during open enrollment or after a significant life event (birth, death, adoption, marriage, etc.). The insurance company does not tell the employer which options they may choose; all options are on the table. It just depends on how much an employer is willing to offer (and of course how much they are willing to pay) for those options.

Once an employer chooses which benefit package(s) they are going to offer their employees, the employee is given a list of those packages from which to choose. Some include nothing but medical (both doctors and facilities), some also add prescription, vision, dental, and/or hearing coverage. Usually adding more options to a policy costs more for the employee. The employer determines how much each employee will pay for their insurance premium and how much the employer is willing to pay on the employee’s behalf. Under union-negotiated collective bargaining agreements, usually those amounts are a large part of negotiations in addition to wages and working conditions.

Premiums can be either entirely employer contributed (as is the case with most of Local 26’s agreements) or partially paid by employees either through payroll deduction or direct payment. Sometimes it’s a combination of both such as when employer contributions do not equal the price of a premium, as often happens with stagehands.

Many factors go into determining how much your health insurance premium will be. Not all factors affect all premiums, especially in union-negotiated contracts. But certainly state and federal laws, what type of insurance, employer size, state and county of residence, and plan type are factors. As all prices change depending on those factors, so too does the cost of insurance.

Another factor is often what deductible a policy carries. High deductible policies tend to carry much lower premiums. This is because the employee takes the risk that they will not end up needing to use their health insurance for much so they pay less for the policy in exchange for having to pay more medical expenses out of pocket. On the flip side, policies with a high premium typically have a lower deductible. These policies are good for those who know they will have considerable medical expense and won’t be able to afford much up front.

It’s important to note the employer also determines what packages they offer will charge for a deductible. They also choose how much of a percentage in coinsurance an employee pays, and how much their out of pocket maximum will be per year.

I’m throwing too many phrases out there that many folks don’t understand. Let me put this simply:

Premium = how much it costs for your insurance policy.

Deductible = how much you pay for medical expenses up front before your health insurance starts paying anything.

Coinsurance = the percentage split between your responsibility and what the insurance company pays.

Out of Pocket Maximum = The highest amount you will pay for medical expenses in a calendar year, after which your insurance company pays everything.

Those are very simplified and of course there are factors that affect them as well, but they are the basic definitions.

For example: Sally Smith has an insurance policy, and their premium is $1300 per quarter. That is how much Sally must pay (or their employer must contribute) in order for them to have insurance coverage every three months.

Sally’s deductible is $1000, meaning the first $1000 of any medical services Sally receives must be paid by them entirely with no help from their insurance.

Once that deductible is met, Sally’s policy becomes 80/20. This means Sally’s insurance company pays 80% of medical expenses and Sally is responsible for 20%.

Sally’s out of pocket maximum is $3000. This means Sally continues to pay 20% of all medical expenses until they have paid a total of $3000 for all medical services received that year. Once that out of pocket maximum is met, Sally’s insurance company pays 100% of medical services until January 1st of the next year. On January 1st, all those numbers are reset to zero and Sally must once again meet the deductible before insurance starts paying, and so on.

Another term you need to know is Copay. A copay is a set amount of money for specific services. For example, a doctor’s office visit carries a $30 copay. Copays are entirely your responsibility until you reach your out of pocket maximum for the year and are not figured into deductible or coinsurance. So in our Sally example above, Sally will pay a $30 copay for each doctor’s visit they have until they meet their out of pocket maximum.

While copays do not contribute to deductible or coinsurance, they DO contribute to out of pocket maximum in most cases. So it’s entirely possible Sally will not have to pay 20% of ALL medical services if they have numerous copays that contribute to their out of pocket maximum.

Altogether, the deductible, coinsurance, copays, and out of pocket maximum are called Cost Share. Simple way to think of it: Cost Share is the amount an employee is responsible for paying for their medical services.


Another important thing to know is the difference between In Network providers and Out of Network providers. In Network providers (doctors, facilities, etc.) have agreed to accept an insurance company’s negotiated discount as full payment for their services. Out of Network providers are under no obligation to accept the lesser amount as full payment.

For example: Sally goes to an in network doctor. That doctor charges $350 for the services performed, but Sally’s insurance company has negotiated with the doctor for a maximum payment of $175. The most that doctor can legally be paid for those services is $175, and they cannot bill anyone for the remaining $175.

If, however, Sally went to an out of network doctor, the rules change. The doctor will still charge $350 for the services, and Sally’s insurance will still allow a maximum payment of $175. That stays the same. But the doctor can then bill Sally for the remaining $175 and they will be responsible for paying it.

This is the difference between Charged Amount and Allowed Amount.

Charged Amount = what a provider charges for a medical service.

Allowed Amount = what an insurance company is willing to pay for that service.

In network providers must accept the allowed amount as full payment. Out of network (also known as non-participating) providers can balance bill (also known as surprise bill) the patient for the remainder.

It is always best to go to in network providers whenever possible. You will be guaranteed the best available rates that way with no surprise bills later. A person’s cost share is figured on the insurance company’s allowed amounts for services. There are typically higher dollar amounts for deductible and a higher percentage of coinsurance out of network as well.

Using our Sally example, their in-network deductible is $1000, but their out of network deductible could be $2500. Their in-network coinsurance is 80/20, but their out of network coinsurance could be 60/40. And their out of pocket maximum could be anything including not having a maximum at all out of network.

The last thing I want to touch on today is the information you should have available when contacting your health insurance company about benefits or claims.

ALWAYS have your insurance card with you when you call! Under very stringent federal and other privacy laws (I’m sure you’ve heard of HIPAA), they must verify who they are speaking with to determine how much, if any, information can be given. They are absolutely not allowed to discuss more than general information with anyone unless you give your express permission, even your spouse. Some aspects of your medical treatment (sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy-related services, mental health and substance abuse treatment to name the most common) they are not allowed to discuss with anyone but you period. You can give your permission to discuss those things, but it will have to be done on each phone call.

They will need your subscriber ID (sometimes called an enrollee ID), full name, birth date, address and/or ZIP code, and a phone number where you can be reached. If you are calling about someone else on your policy, they will need their full name and birthdate as well. They need this before they can even see your policy to answer questions. Conveniently, the number you need to call to ask questions is located on your card, so you’ll probably have it out anyway.

Depending on what you’re asking, they will need further information, but I’ll get into that in future posts in this series. The goal is not to overwhelm anyone with information, but to make it easier to understand health insurance!

Solidarity Collection for BCTGM

Brothers, Sisters, and Kin,

Union members at Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ Local 3-G at Kellogg’s have now been on strike for over 4 weeks. With three other sister locals here in the US they have 1,400 members total.  In our state we have 325 in Battle Creek on strike. BCTGM has offered 5 Ways to Support the #KelloggStrike

Unions have a history of coming together to support each other during hard times. When the entertainment industry was completely shut down, the Kent Ionia Labor Council arranged generous holiday meals for IATSE Local 26 members. They saw how we were struggling and made an effort to ease the burden. Now it is our turn to aid our union kin. IATSE Local 26 is collecting the following requested items to donate to BCTGM Local 3G members, for their union hall in Battle Creek, and as supplies for the picket lines. The members have spoken and told us what they need.

Household Items For Members

Canned Goods
Peanut Butter
Toilet Paper
Paper Towels
Trash Bags
Pet Food

For Hall/Picket Lines
Hand Warmers
Coffee Cups & Lids
Lysol Spray
Lg. Coffee filters for Bunn Coffee Maker

Donations can be brought to:

BCTGM Local 3-G
1006 N Raymond Rd
Battle Creek, MI 49014


If before November 22nd
IATSE Local 26
931 Bridge St NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Don’t let geography hold you back. We understand that our members and supporters are scattered far and wide. Donations can be made by mail or online.

Checks should be made out to:
BCTGM Local 3-G CES Fund

You can write Charitable, Educational & Solidarity Fund in memo line

Mail to or drop off at the Union Hall
BCTGM Local 3-G
1006 N Raymond Rd
Battle Creek, MI 49014

To donate online CLICK HERE

**Guest picket line duty is always welcome! Feel free to park at the Hall. Bring your own signs showing support from your local if possible. No worries if not, BCTGM has signs available.

Your support on social media is gratefully appreciated!


SMG/ASM Masking and Vaccination Protocols

IATSE Local 26 and ASM Global are committed to the safety of workers. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and to make smart choices to stay healthy.

Employers have the right to require vaccinations, make reasonable safety rules, and enforce said rules. The Union will make sure Employers’ requirements are reasonable and workers are given adequate notice to comply. Choosing not to meet those requirements is choosing not to work for that employer.

SMG (and its parent company ASM Global) has communicated the following protocols. The Union expects everyone we refer to work for them to comply.


Updated August 13, 2021

Attention all Grand Rapids Staff!!

With the new recommendations from the Kent County Health Department regarding masks, SMG is reinstating the mask requirement for all staff regardless of your vaccination status.

Until further notice, all staff must wear a face covering (properly worn over mouth and nose) while in the facilities.

Anyone not following this change in policy will be subject to disciplinary action.  Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.

Any Team Members who are not registered as fully vaccinated with their local Human Resources Department are required to complete the daily health questionnaire.

  • Survey must be completed BEFORE entry.
  • Survey must be filled out 1hr – 12hr’s before each shift.

In order to be considered registered as fully vaccinated with your local Human Resources Department, Team Members must provide proof of their vaccination status or self-attest be being vaccinated AND ASM Global must maintain a physical record of this documentation. As such, ASM Global’s venue level Human Resources Departments will now be allowed to maintain confidential records of Team Members vaccination status if the Team Member chooses to disclose it.

Provide proof of fully vaccinated status (i.e. vaccine card, image of vaccine card or note from your physician indicating vaccination status) to their local Human Resources Department who will maintain a copy of this document in a confidential file.


Team Member can sign and date the attached document self-attesting to their fully vaccinated status (including dates of vaccination) and submit it to their local Human Resources Department who will maintain this document in a confidential file. The Union is not allowed to keep copies of proof of vaccination or self attesting forms. Keep your records and be prepared to show them again if any other employer requires vaccinations.

Send documentation to:

Chris Machuta

Van Andel Arena & DeVos Place Assistant General Manager

Scanned PDFs and photos from your phone may be emailed.

*Use “Stagehand COVID Vaccination” as the Subject line.

**Include your name as it appears on you paycheck in the body of your email. If the attachment is blurry or unable to be opened, they will need to know who to contact.

Yes, as long as you will follow the requirements. You will be required to continue wearing a face mask and complete the daily health questionnaire. These are necessary preventative measures needed to limit workplace transmission when there is a mix of vaccinated and potentially unvaccinated Team Members in the work environment.

Team Members have the right to decline to divulge their vaccination status. No disciplinary or discriminatory action will be tolerated against a Team Member due to their status.

Any Team Member who chooses to not disclose proof of vaccination, will be treated as unvaccinated and will be required to continue wearing a face mask and complete the daily health questionnaire. These are necessary preventative measures needed to limit workplace transmission when there is a mix of vaccinated and potentially unvaccinated Team Members in the work environment.

Van Andel Arena Health Survey:

DeVos Place Health Survey:

DeVos Performance Hall:


Brief Q&A below for further clarity:

A: Per the CDC, people are considered fully vaccinated:

2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
If you don’t meet these requirements, regardless of your age, you are NOT fully vaccinated.

A: This policy applies to all represented and unrepresented ASM Global Team Members. As in all matters, where the CBA and company policy differ, the CBA is the governing document.

A: No, direction pertaining to visitors to our venues should be guided by local ordinances and any direction we have received from our clients related to masks. If the local ordinance or our client require us to request visitors to wear masks, then we should do so and communicate those requirements accordingly. Absent a local ordinance or client direction regarding masks, we should continue to request that all visitors wear masks while at the facility, but if they choose not to then we will respect their decision.


ASM Global will continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 public health guidance and update our direction as needed. Please note, ASM Global reserves the right to change or modify this policy at any time to effectively address an outbreak and / or in accordance with CDC, State or local guidance.

Please contact the Local at with any questions or for assistance with registering your vaccination status.


I.A.T.S.E. Local 26 Support Group

Local 26 understands the last 18 or so months have been hard on everyone, and we want you to know we will do everything we can to help those who need it. We’ve been able to do some pretty darn great things with the help of our friends at the Kent-Ionia Labor Council, West Michigan United Way, and several other unions in the area (unfortunately I do not remember which ones, for which I apologize and would be happy to insert their names if someone else remembers). We’ve kept the lights on, the Local going, and with the help of the International have covered per capitas for members for several quarters so no one’s membership lapses due to lack of income.

We’ve also tried to help with your mental health, because that is just as important as anything else. I’ve written several blog posts with ideas for coping strategies and resources for you to use when you need them. If you haven’t yet, please read the following:

Need Some Help Managing Your Stress and/or Depression?

Stress, Mental Health, Harassment, & Bullying Hazard Awareness Resources (continuously updated)

BTS Launches New Peer-to-Peer Chat App “Be Scene – Be Heard”


In May, I was able to take the Mental Health First Aid course through Behind the Scenes and certified as an Adult Mental Health First Aider. The class was hard, I’m not going to lie. It was a lot of work both on my own and in an online classroom setting, and some of the topics were incredibly uncomfortable. Aside from my own mental health issues (and I freely admit I have them) I’ve known, as have many of you, those who needed help but didn’t get it. Those who needed help but didn’t think they did. Those who none of us knew needed help until it was too late.

Those are extreme examples. They happen, but in a small percentage of people. The goal here is to help each other so things don’t get to that point.

Mental health issues do not automatically mean there is something wrong with you, not in the way most people see it. The stigma of admitting you need help is so ingrained in our society it infuriates me. If you broke your arm, would anyone think poorly of you if you saw a doctor to have it set properly in a cast to heal? Of course not. Why, then, do so many people look at a mental health challenge as something to be ashamed of? It’s not any more shameful than having allergies, or diabetes, or kidney stones. These things happen, and they happen to everyone regardless of social or economic status, race, religion, gender identity, living situation, or any other category by which you can classify a human being. Mental health is part of all of us, and sometimes that part of our overall health needs work. No big deal!

You know what IS a big deal? Ignoring it. Thinking if you just tough it out it’ll be fine. Feeling ashamed you need help. Keeping your problems to yourself because you think others have it worse than you so you shouldn’t complain. That last one pushes all my buttons. You are entitled to help no matter who else is struggling!

The idea here is to start small. Don’t want to jump into therapy? Great! Not everyone is ready, not everyone can afford it… There are dozens of legitimate reasons, and one of them is “I’m afraid”. You don’t have to tell anyone you’re afraid. You don’t even have to admit it to yourself. But it’s legit.

Starting small. That’s the point. That’s why I wanted to start a support group for Local 26. Not just members. Everyone. Because everyone needs someone to talk to who gets it. We all get it. We all walked out of our last theatre/arena/convention center/meeting room/whatever in March 2020 with no idea it would be this long before we started coming back. There’s still a long way to go even though work is picking up. And things are different. They’ll continue to be different probably forever.

The support group is just that. A judgement-free place where you can talk to people who know where you’re coming from. Maybe we don’t have any more solutions than you do. But maybe we do! If nothing else, it gets you out of the house for a little while and lets you see people you used to work next to regularly but haven’t talked to in well over a year.

It’s not therapy. It doesn’t diagnose any mental illness. It says, “Hey you! Yeah, you. You’re not alone. We’re all floundering. Let’s talk about it! Maybe we can figure something out that’ll help all of us.”

There are rules. First, most important, and for which there is a zero tolerance policy: WHAT IS SAID IN THE GROUP STAYS IN THE GROUP. If you talk about something someone else said without their permission, you’re out. End of story.

The rest of the rules are pretty common sense as far as support groups go:

  • We can discuss anything and some rough language (swearing/cussing) may be used. While this is not a church group, we will expect everyone to be respectful towards others, even if they have a differing opinion. No abuse, shaming, or bullying will be tolerated. This is supposed to be a safe place and we will keep it that way. NO politics or religion please. Let it not divide us.
  • Group members do not tell people outside of the group who attends the group.
  • Everyone gets a chance to talk who wants to. If necessary, someone may be told to hold their thought to allow someone else a chance to speak.
  • If you don’t feel like talking, don’t! Sometimes just listening to other people talk about having the same struggles you’re having helps.
  • Judging, criticizing, teasing or “put-downs” is not allowed. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. You can’t help what you think, but you can help what you say.
  • Group members give other group members feedback only when it is requested. If someone just wants to vent, great! Blowing off steam is one of the best ways to relieve stress and can help you see your own way clear.
  • When in the group, everyone is equal. No one is more important than anyone else because of a position they may hold at work or anywhere else. The newest referent shares equal footing with the oldest member and everyone in between.

That’s it! It’s possible there could be more later as need arises, or wording could change. But the general overview is don’t suck. If you suck, it defeats the entire purpose. Plus, you’d suck. And no one wants to suck.

For those who might be concerned about things they may share within the group somehow coming back to affect their offers for work, please be aware that Josh Roskamp (Business Agent, Local 26) and Jess Westra (President, Local 26) have said they will not be part of it. Not because they don’t want to or because they think it’s a bad idea, but because they don’t want anyone to avoid taking part because of their presence.

As you see in the graphic above, there is a completely separate email address for those who wish to take part in the group ( . That was done purposely to keep it separate from anything to do with the Local 26 office. While I will be leading the group, when I am there I am not a representative of the Executive Board or the office despite my positions there. I am simply the group facilitator while we meet.

To end on a personal note: If you need someone to talk to immediately, please reach out! Doesn’t have to be to me, although I will do my best to make time to talk to you if you do. But talk to someone. Friend, family member, religious figure, therapist, whoever will listen! I cannot express enough how much it helps to talk to someone. And if you don’t feel comfortable talking to a particular person for any reason, don’t! Not all personalities work well together. If you have a problem with another group member, please let me know and we’ll work out a solution. If you have a problem with me we’ll work that out, too.

We are all in this together, but we are all at different places mentally, financially, and physically. Please don’t feel you are alone, and please don’t feel you just need to “tough it out”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… THERE IS NO SHAME IN NEEDING HELP. Don’t try to go it alone; there’s no need. Self-care is not a luxury, it is a necessity. I’d like to see all of you when we are finally back to work!


COVID-19 Return to Work FAQ Updated

Safety is always our first priority. When it comes to containing the coronavirus, we have no margin of error. We understand that a single person contracting the virus could shut down a production. As we are just getting back to work, we don’t want you to miss out because you are home sick.

We will inform you of COVID-19 work requirements with every job offer. Choosing not to meet the requirements is choosing not to work for an employer. Employers are legally allowed to require vaccinations, require COVID-19 testing, limit movement in a building, take temperatures, provide health surveys, make reasonable safety rules, and enforce said rules. The Union will make sure Employers’ requirements are reasonable and workers are given adequate notice to comply. When we are informed before the call, they will be listed on the event page on It is the employers’ responsibility to provide gloves and sanitizing products when necessary. It is your responsibility to use them.

Workers who claim exemptions should be prepared to provide documentation of their need for exemption. This may be a letter from a doctor regarding a documented medical condition or a bona fide religious belief.

Labor Unions are not allowed to keep records of proof of vaccination or documentation to justify a waiver. It is up to you as the individual employee to provide the proof to each Employer. The Union will provide contact information for the Employer representative responsible for tracking vaccinations. Whenever possible we will provide that contact prior to a call to avoid delays at the worksite while information is collected.

We are allowed to track who has provided proof of vaccination to employers. Please do not disrespect your coworkers and their loved ones by violating safety requirements. We will take dishonesty and disobedience very seriously.

Employers rules will range from no COVID protocols to fully vaccinated and wearing masks. Rules for vaccinated workers may be different for vaccinated vs non-vaccinated people. We encourage you to take precautions and make decisions based on your level of risk.


If an employer requires a face mask, then you must wear the face mask. This means a tightly woven cloth or other multi-layer absorbent material that closely covers an individual’s mouth and nose. Scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, neck gaiters, plastic masks, and chin shields do not provide sufficient protection and are not considered “face masks”.

The IATSE Training Trust has created new Safety First! Online Courses free for all IATSE Members and qualified workers. Good news referents! Our ASM/SMG collective bargaining agreement contributes to the Training Trust Fund. If we have sent you to work even one event at DeVos Place, Van Andel Arena, or DeVos Performance Hall, you qualify for everything the TTF has to offer. Go to  to register for an account now. If you have questions regarding your application, please reach out to

  • COVID-19: Guidelines for Preventing Exposure (25 minutes)

This course provides workers with information and recommended practices to minimize the spread of COVID-19 upon returning to the workplace.

  • Recommended Sanitation Practices for Make-up and Hair (1 hour)

This course is intended to help Artists and Stylists learn how to implement sanitation best practices into their daily process to ensure the health and safety of themselves and the Performers they work with.

  • Wardrobe and Costume Department Safety (84 minutes)

This course aims to equip workers with the knowledge and tools necessary to identify—and ultimately prevent exposure to—potential safety and health hazards at work in the wardrobe department. Topics include ergonomics, fall prevention, small space awareness, electrical safety, chemical protection, safe sanitation and laundry practices, and more.


Important Ways to Slow the Spread from the CDC

Let us know. We would much rather err on the side of caution. Anyone who is unsure if they are exposed or not may be replaced on calls without penalty.

If you were in close contact, consider yourself exposed

  • You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a combined total of 15 minutes or more in one day
  • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
  • You shared eating or drinking utensils
  • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a Coronavirus Self Checker to help you.

State of Michigan COVID-19 Testing will find you a location in your area.

Make note, there are many locations that provide no cost testing options.

From the Center for Disease Control (CDC)

COVID-19 tests are available that can test for current infection or past infection.

  • viral test tells you if you have a current infection. Two types of viral tests can be used: nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) and antigen tests.
  • An antibody test (also known as a serology test) might tell you if you had a past infection. Antibody tests should not be used to diagnose a current infection.

Stay home except to get medical care.

Take care of yourself.

Stay in touch with your doctor.

Monitor your symptoms.

Follow the CDC’s steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick

Please tell us via or a text message to the call steward. Especially before you post it on social media. Rumors spread faster than the speed of light and we need to know the situation so that we can answer both worker’s and employer’s questions.

If you are in isolation and need supplies, we may be able to help with deliveries and errands.

President Loeb issued a directive:

“With regard to members working under IATSE International and/or IATSE local union collective bargaining agreements, members must comply with COVID-19 protocols and guidelines, including mask-wearing; proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE); adherence to hand washing and social distancing; and all other appropriate protective measures aimed at stopping the spread of the disease.

Failing to follow all COVID-19 safety guidelines is conduct unbecoming, amongst other violations, and may subject members to discipline pursuant to Article Sixteen of the IATSE Constitution as well as termination from work by your employer.”

Whether the person is a member, referent, employer, or vendor, the issue will immediately be brought before the Executive Board to determine a course of action. This can include mandatory classes, suspension, fines, or possible removal from the referral list.  Our employers signed contracts promising safe working conditions. We will not hesitate to enforce that agreement.

We fully understand the difference between a thoughtless mistake and willful disobedience. Masks can slip and so can people. Reminders should be met with acceptance not attitude. Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is a pattern.

Note: The call steward cannot solve all problems but will always have the contact information for the entire Executive Board of the Local and will get someone to respond to you as soon as possible.

Maybe. It has been a long pandemic. Our records are much more reliable than our memories. We can assure you that we have not removed anyone from the referral list for not working their one call a year.

“Article 4 #6 Referents who perform no work as a stage employee for one (1) year or more except as a result of disability or service in the armed forces of the United States shall be dropped from the referral list on which their name appears and shall lose all accrued seniority for job referral purposes.”

Article 4 #6 was originally suspended until May 2021. It has now been suspended for an additional six months. Our hope is that December 2021 will have us back to working regularly.

We completely understand your efforts to avoid the virus. If you do not want to be permanently removed from the referral list but are unable to accept work at this time, email the Local at and request to be put on the R List. When the infection rate is low enough and the vaccination rate is high enough, let us know you are able to take calls again. This is voluntary, but we need it in writing for the records so that no one can accuse us of skipping your name inappropriately.

The Local notifies everyone we know had contact with the person. Phone calls will be made to anyone they may have worked with including crew, employers, and vendors.

Exposed people will be given a list of places providing COVID testing.


We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions—like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces—in public places until we know more. The protocols for people working events are much different than attendees. Do you trust a room full of 500 strangers with your health?

Do you want to be the one that unknowingly spreads the virus because you are not showing symptoms? The vaccine will keep you out of the hospital, but you may still get sick, and you can definitely still spread it.

Even if you are fully vaccinated, that does not mean everyone around you is that lucky. In order to keep everyone safe, we have to achieve herd immunity. This should be achieved by protecting people through vaccination, not by exposing them to the pathogen that causes the disease. For measles this meant 95% of the population. For polio this meant 80% of the population. We do not know what percentage of the population must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to begin herd immunity.


Our COVID Response Team has volunteers to help people sign up for a vaccine shot. Depending on the area you live in, we may even be able to assist with transportation.

Contact and a volunteer will get in touch with you.

CDC Vaccine Finder – Search anywhere in the US for vaccination locations – free service that will send text alerts for last minute appointment openings.

Some places in Michigan to sign up for appointments:

Michigan Residents who don’t have access to the internet or who need assistance navigating the vaccine scheduling process can call the COVID-19 Hotline at 888-535-6136 (press 1) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Meijer Vaccine Clinic




560,000+ people have died in the US as of April 2021.

31,000,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the US as of April 2021.

IATSE has released extensive recommendations for returning to work.

Actor’s Equity – Among the union’s requirements is the implementation of COVID-19 safety officers. Productions would have to have one for every 20 people in the company (which includes actors, stage managers, and anyone who comes in contact with them). Officers would ensure compliance with health protocols, overseeing testing, symptom monitoring, cleaning, contact tracing, and more. The guidelines stipulate that actors and stage managers cannot act as safety officers for their production.


Michigan Unemployment Work Search Requirement


By now you’ve gotten multiple emails, probably messages in your MiWAM account, and possibly letters in the actual mail as well. Beginning May 30, 2021, claimants receiving unemployment benefits will be required to actively search for work and report at least one work search activity for each week they claim benefits. In short: No work search, no money.

But what does that mean?

With any luck at all this post will help you understand most of what’s going on. But I’m going to call attention to a very important fact:

If any information you receive directly from Michigan UIA contradicts something you read here, DO WHAT THEY TELL YOU.

I am no expert. I’m just trying to make it a little easier to figure out. If they tell you to do something different, do that instead… And then please let me know so I can correct the information here. No one wants you to be disqualified, no one wants you to have to pay money back, and certainly no one wants you to end up having to pay any fines or end up in a legal battle.

Pre-pandemic, there was always a work search rule but because we work through a union hiring hall we were given a waiver for it. During the COVID shutdown, everyone was given a waiver. But now things are opening back up and businesses are hurting for employees. The reasons for that are another discussion entirely, so I’ll just say those who are paying a decent wage (you know, like what we used to make doing shows) are having little to no trouble finding employees while those who pay considerably less are having a tougher time.

Simply being on the Local 26 referral list and available for work DOES NOT COUNT as a “work search activity.” Likewise, calling the office or sending a text to the call steward to see if there are any shows coming up does not count. Please do not do either of those things, it will only waste everyone’s time and you’ll be no further ahead. There is a way for Local 26 cardholders to avoid having to perform work search activities, but it does still require you to do something. That information is detailed below in the June 8 update.

  • Applying for a job, either in person or online
  • Creating a profile or submitting a resume on a job search website (such as LinkedIn or Indeed)
  • Participating in job search workshops or seminars, again either in person or online

IMPORTANT: You cannot use any single work search activity more than once in any given four-week period! If you apply for a job at Joe’s Market the first week of June, you cannot apply there again until the first week in July if you want the second application to count as a job search.

Also IMPORTANT: The second item on the list can only be used once per claim. If you create a resume on Indeed the first week in June, you cannot create another resume on Indeed EVER AGAIN under your current claim and have it count as a job search.

When you do a work search activity, you MUST document that you’ve done so. UIA can ask you for proof of your work search any time for up to two years, and if you are unable to prove you did the reported activity they can make you pay back any money you received, most likely with interest and/or penalties.

There is a PDF from the state detailing a long list of things that count as legitimate work search activities and how to document them. Please see Work Search Activities List

Short answer: Yes to the first, no to the second. If you apply for a job and are offered the position, you have to have a really good reason for turning it down.

According to Michigan UIA:

You must accept an offer of suitable work based on your skills, abilities, and other factors for your occupation such as the prevailing wage rate in your local labor market. If there are limited jobs in your occupation or geographical area, you may have to expand your work search. For example, you may have to consider looking for a job in a different field or location.

If you do not have good cause for refusing to accept an offer of suitable work, you will be disqualified for benefits and may be required to repay benefits you received.

When filling out an application, consider factors like whether or not the employer is union-friendly, how much per hour you would need to make to take the job, what days/hours you would be available to work there, and the company’s political leaning. Choose your answers accordingly.

If you certify online, you will be able to submit your work search activity for each week along with the other questions you normally answer. Be sure you include:

  • The NAME and DATE of the activity as well as NAME and ADDRESS of whatever entity you contacted OR
  • NAME and DATE of job fair or workshop you attended
  • Regardless of which of those you do, you’ll need to say how the contact was made (in person, online, via email, etc.)

If you certify over the phone using MARVIN, you must REMAIN ON THE LINE after you answer all the normal questions until an agent comes on to take your work search information. What you need to tell them is slightly different:

  • DATE of contact
  • TYPE of activity (submitted application, job fair, workshop, etc.)
  • NAME of whatever entity you contacted
  • ADDRESS or URL of contact
  • HOW contact was made

Short answer: You don’t get paid for that week. Period.

A work search activity must be completed in each week that you are paid benefits. There is also no good cause given for failing to complete a work search activity.  If you do not conduct a work search activity in a particular week, you will not be eligible for payment in that week.  If you miss a work search activity in any week, it cannot be made up.

You’ve been waiting for this one… WHAT ABOUT A WAIVER SO I DON’T HAVE TO DO A WORK SEARCH?

Claimants can apply for a waiver online by logging into their Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) or by calling the UIA Customer Service line at 1-866-500-0017. You must apply and be approved for the waiver before you certify for benefits for the bi-weekly certification period. You will be notified at the time of the request whether a waiver of the requirement is granted.

Claimants can begin applying for a work search waiver May 30, 2021.


Union members in good standing have a sort-of waiver for doing work search activity. We have changed the “contact” form on this website to make that easier. On the form, choose “Availability” for subject and fill in the required other information. You will receive an email notification in return. KEEP THAT EMAIL to prove to Michigan UIA you did it in case for some reason you are audited. UIA can ask for your documentation for up to two years.

You still need to list it under work search activities for each week when they certify, however. When you certify online, you will see the usual list of questions with some additions. Don’t just go on autopilot and say “no” to everything! Some of the answers should be yes or you won’t be paid for the week.

One of the questions asked is if you performed a work search activity. There will be a drop-down menu. Choose “submitted an application/resume” or the closest thing to that it says (I don’t certify until next week and haven’t seen it so I’m not sure of the exact wording). Then enter the contact information for Local 26 as requested.

If you are receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and you are self-employed, you are not required to apply for a waiver. A waiver will be automatically granted.

*Note that “and”. If you are on PUA but employed by someone from whom you receive a W-2, you are not self-employed.

How to complete your work search

The first time you are required to include the details of your work search activity is when you certify for the week ending June 5, 2021. 

The preferred method for reporting work search activities is online using your Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) account.

  • Enter your work search activity in MiWAM at Questions about your work search will be included with your regular certification questions. Enter the details of your Work Search Activity for Week 1 and Week 2.
  • Certify with MiWAM any day during your certification week.


  • Certify by phone with MARVIN at 866-638-3993. Listen carefully to the prompts and answer the certification questions. After completing the automated questions, you must stay on the line to be connected with an agent to provide the details of your work search.
  • Do not hang up before you have provided your work search details or your certification will not be complete, and your benefits will not be paid.

What to include when reporting your work search activities:

  • Date of Contact – The date of your work search activity must fall within the week ending date (Sunday through Saturday) for each
  • Activity – Enter the work search activity for the week you are claiming benefits. One is required, but additional can be entered. Allowable work search activities may include submitting applications, contacting employers, checking resources at employment offices, checking job listings at Michigan Works, attending job fairs or employment workshops.
  • Name of Employer/Organization/Search Engine – Write the name, if known, or the online job search site, or employment service or agency that was contacted. If the search was done online and the employer was not specified, enter the name of the search engine, employment service or employment Enter the Michigan Works agency that you used for your work search activity.
  • Employer Address/Online Location – Enter the location where work was sought, physical address or online website address. If the contact was made by telephone or fax, enter the phone number
  • Method of Contact – Enter how contact was made (e.g., Online, email, in person, phone, mail, fax, ).

For most of the pandemic, the UIA has not been enforcing the day/time on which you certify, instead letting you certify any time during the week you are told to do it. I’ve heard a rumour I cannot substantiate at this point that they’re going to start enforcing the day/time again, most particularly for those who certify over the phone through MARVIN. For those folks, what I hear is you’ll have to go back to the old way where your time to certify is determined by the last two digits of your Social Security number. Those two digits automatically assign you a four-hour window each week Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday during which you may certify. If you miss your window, Thursday and Friday are make-up days. I mention this only because the rumour is those requirements are going into effect on June 7, 2021. I would hope UIA will inform everyone beforehand if that is true, but you never know.

Update 30 May 2021
It’s no longer a rumour… according to the email I got today, starting June 7 if you certify by phone you MUST call during your allotted time by the last two digits of your Social Security number, or use the make-up days. Below is the list of numbers and days/times.

The entire list of Employee FAQs for Michigan Unemployment can be found here. If you have further questions, please check there to see if the answer is available.

If you need help understanding something, please reach out to us via email (found on the Contact Us page of this website) and we will do our best to explain. You can also call the office, but it’s not guaranteed someone will be there who can answer your questions. Office hours can also be found on that same page, where any known/planned changes will be listed as well.

Be safe. Stay healthy. Please get vaccinated if you haven’t. Please wear a mask at least as required, if not all the time. WASH YOUR HANDS!