Earlier this week, the Hollywood unions came to terms with management i.e. the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) in terms of an agreement on proper COVID-19 protocols to allow productions to resume for the next seven months. Today, IATSE President Matthew Loeb made a statement on the IATSE website that the union representing the behind-the-scenes workers will take a “zero tolerance” policy to its members following the protocols.
In the directive posted on the website, Loeb began:
“As our temporarily slowed economy has begun to reopen, we must continue to recognize the severity of the COVID-19 crisis and the lethality of this contagion. In recognition of the newly emerging coronavirus cases linked to certain reopened businesses, facilities, and other institutions, we must strive for safety in our workplaces. There is no room for error. We know now that stringent practices can minimize the risks of outbreaks, which have forced repeated or continued closures in some regions and sectors. We know first-hand the economic devastation caused by COVID-19. The IATSE has never experienced a near total shutdown of all of our industries at one time. Therefore, we must do everything we can to avoid any further closures of our industries.”
Loeb then cited Article Seven, Section 14 from the IATSE International Constitution to back his 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.
“The IATSE International does not take these actions lightly,” Loeb continued. “Recognizing the life-threatening health and economic crises posed by COVID-19 and the singularly unprecedented impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the IATSE International, our members, and our families, we take these extreme, zero tolerance, measures to protect the safety of members and all workers under IATSE and/or IATSE local union collective bargaining agreements.”
IATSE becomes the first industry union to outright warn its members that there could be disciplinary measures including firing for anyone who doesn’t adhere to the prescribed COVID-19 protocols, including wearing masks and required PPE, washing hands, social distancing and other protective measures.