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 callsteward.com. 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”.
How can I learn more about how to keep myself and the people around me safe?
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 https://www.iatsetrainingtrust.org/ to register for an account now. If you have questions regarding your application, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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
- Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth to help protect yourself and others.
- Stay 6 feet apart from others who don’t live with you.
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you.
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
What should I do if I’m not sure if I’ve been exposed or not?
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.
Where can I get a COVID test? Are there different kinds of tests?
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.
- A 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.
What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19?
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 email@example.com 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.
What happens if someone is not following COVID-19 safety protocols?
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.
How do I report people not following safety protocols?
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.
I haven’t worked for Local 26 since before the pandemic. Remember me?
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.
I fall under the CDC guidelines for high risk or am caring for someone who is considered to be at high risk. What are my work options?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
What happens when the Local is notified someone has COVID-19?
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.
I’m vaccinated, can we relax on the protocols?
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.
I’m not vaccinated, can you help me?
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 President@iatse26.org and a volunteer will get in touch with you.
CDC Vaccine Finder – Search anywhere in the US for vaccination locations
VaccineHunter.org – 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.
Is all of this necessary?
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.