COVID-19 Update from Local 802

Local 802 will update this page as we receive more information about the developing COVID-19 outbreak.

Scroll to the bottom for a compilation of coronavirus resources and emergency relief resources.

 

*BE ADVISED: the Local 802 building is closed until further notice in compliance with Governor Cuomo’s “stay at home order” that went into effect on March 22, 2020 at 8 PM.*

 

TAKE ACTION: TELL YOUR REPS TO PROTECT MUSICIANS AND ENTERTAINMENT WORKERS

Musicians and other entertainment workers are uniquely impacted by coronavirus. This pandemic has pushed the entire entertainment industry into an unprecedented crisis.

Live concerts, theatrical productions, club dates, and recording sessions have been shut down. This has meant an overnight loss of work for entertainment workers—leaving thousands unable to pay for rent or food and jeopardizing their healthcare coverage.

Click here, here, and here to contact your legislators and tell them to protect entertainment workers during this pandemic. Click here to advocate for disaster unemployment assistance for all workers, including freelancers and those not protected by employee status. Sign and share widely! You can also call your reps at 202-224-3121.

Call and email your NYS elected officials and ask them to renew the COBRA subsidy healthcare program. This program, which pays 50% of monthly COBRA premiums for entertainment union members for 12 months, has kept over 1,150 entertainment workers on their healthcare over the past decade. We must ensure it does not expire at this critical time. Click here for sample scripts and elected official contact info.

SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THE OFFICE OF NIGHTLIFE: New York City’s Office of Nightlife is conducting a survey to gather information on the impact of COVID-19 on nightlife industry workers and businesses. Take the survey here before it closes on Friday, April 3. The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment will communicate the feedback and concerns they receive to City Hall, along with state and federal government, to inform policy recommendations.

Freelancers Union has created a survey for freelancers to gauge how COVID-19 is impacting their work and their lives. While the survey is national, the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment will be working with Freelancers Union to review responses from New York City and communicate feedback to City Hall, as well as state and federal government, to inform policy recommendations. 

A number of NYC Council Members have signed onto a petition calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to ensure New York City’s cultural institutions, arts non-profits, artists, and creative workers are supported by current relief efforts and included in the Business Stimulus package. Sign and share here!

The League of American Orchestras has also started a campaign calling on Congress members to support relief for nonprofit orchestras and musicians impacted by COVID-19. Sign a letter and/or tweet out a message here!

SIGN THE IATSE AND EQUITY PETITIONS: Our entertainment unions are all in this together, with the universal demand that our members who make art and bring joy to our communities be provided relief during this time of financial insecurity. Sign IATSE’s petition here and sign Actors Equity’s petition here.

COMMUNICATIONS TO THE PUBLIC FROM LOCAL 802

The Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds (COBUG) Announces Agreement with the Broadway League for Compensation During Unprecedented Broadway Suspension

NEW YORK – March 20, 2020 – Members of the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds (COBUG) issued the following statement announcing that members have reached an agreement with the Broadway League for compensation during the COVID-19 crisis. The COBUG unions negotiated jointly on the terms. 

“We are grateful to be able to tell our members that the industry came together to provide some compensation during this terrible time.

“Broadway needs to come back and working together is the best way to make that happen. Now Congress must do its part for arts and entertainment workers on Broadway and beyond to ensure they have access to unemployment insurance and health care during this industry-wide shut down.” 

Financial relief includes basic wage supplements to affected workers and additional health contributions with a commitment to resume discussions on the possibility of additional health contributions the week of April 6.

“The leaders of our industry have been working tirelessly with our partners at the unions to forge an agreement that will address many of the needs of our employees during this crisis. We are a community that cares about each other, and we are pleased that we can offer some relief,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League. “Once we are past this challenging moment, we look forward to welcoming everyone back to our theatres to experience the best of live entertainment together once again.” 

COBUG-affiliated unions represent the full spectrum of New York arts professionals, including: artists, dancers, singers, musicians, playwrights, directors and choreographers, , makeup artists, set, costume, lighting, sound and projection designers, stagehands, stage managers, ushers and ticket-takers, box office personnel, wardrobe workers, hairstylists, porters, press agents, company managers, and house managers. These are hard-working individuals who provide vital services to New York.

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Local 802 AFM Statement on the Metropolitan Opera Shutdown

March 19, 2020 – “We fully support the Metropolitan Opera for taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of workers and patrons during the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Adam Krauthamer, President of Local 802 AFM. “The Met Opera has informed us that it will not pay its regular musicians after March 31 and that it will extend health coverage indefinitely. The musicians of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, alongside the many other unions who work at the Met, are the heart and soul of this storied institution. These professionals, many with families who rely on their paychecks, are now facing the prospect of no income for an extended period of time. We believe that immediate governmental assistance is essential to avoid a brutal outcome for these musicians.”

NOTE: The Met Orchestra Musicians Committee will be in contact and available later today for comment from the musicians.

March 18, 2020 Statement from the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds

COBUG represents artists and workers who create theatre, opera, dance, and concerts on Broadway, at Lincoln Center, and at venues across the city. New York’s cultural performing arts institutions are key drivers to New York’s economy. The role that nearly 100,000 arts workers play cannot be overstated.

The suspension of performances across the city will take a massive financial toll on our members as well as New York’s economy. By shuttering productions, fundamental economic lifelines have been cut for those who spend their lives bringing joy and art to our city.

We are requesting emergency financial and health protections. There are no “work remotely” options for our members, many of whom are freelance or paid per performance. They face the stark reality of not being able to work and earn a living, perhaps for months, compounded by the fact that they could lose their health coverage when they need it most: during a world pandemic.

We ask that the legislature prioritize our members’ needs, as they will be essential in re-energizing the important arts sector of New York’s economy when we re-emerge from this crisis.

We therefore call upon the government to pass immediate, substantial economic relief. Such relief should be earmarked specifically to replace lost earnings for our members who cannot work or license their work due to the effort to fight the COVID-19 virus, ensure health insurance coverage and extended sick leave and unemployment benefits, and provide emergency relief for those artists not otherwise assisted by such programs. Remedial measures should ensure the future survival of our members and the organizations for whom they work. There is no time to wait or to be delayed by political infighting. Please act now.

COBUG-affiliated unions represent the full of spectrum of New York arts professionals, including: artists, dancers, singers, musicians, playwrights, directors and choreographers, costume, makeup artists, set and lighting designers, stagehands, stage managers, ushers and ticket-takers, box office personnel, wardrobe, hairstylists, porters, press agents and company managers. These are hard-working individuals who provide vital services to this state and city. We ask that New York State not turn their backs on our members as they will be needed to reenergize the important arts sector of New York’s economy when this crisis passes.

COBUG is comprised of:

  • The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, AFL-CIO, CLC
  • Ushers, Ticket Takers & Stagedoor Persons, IATSE, Local 306
  • Treasurers and Ticket Sellers Union, IATSE, Local 751
  • Theatrical Wardrobe Union, Local 764, IATSE
  • Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists, IATSE, Local 798
  • Association of Theatrical Press Agents & Managers, IATSE, Local 18032
  • Actors Equity Association
  • American Federation of Musicians, AFM
  • American Guild of Musical Artists
  • Local 802 American Federation of Musicians, AFL-CIO
  • Dramatists Guild of America
  • Mail Telephone Order Clerks, IATSE, Local B-751
  • Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, SDC

Local 802 AFM Calls on New York City and State to Provide Assistance to Musicians and Other Arts Workers Impacted by Limit on Public Gatherings During COVID-19 Outbreak

NEW YORK, NYMarch 12, 2020 – As public health officials across the country advise a limit on public gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), President Adam Krauthamer of the Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 AFM, issued the following statement:

“In our city and state’s efforts to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19, health authorities have urged social distancing, forcing businesses to cancel or indefinitely postpone large gatherings. For musicians, whose workspaces primarily constitute “large gatherings” – whether a theatre production, a concert, a music festival, or a recording session in close quarters – the developing coronavirus situation poses a major threat to our income and health and retirement benefits.

Many Local 802 members make their living as freelancers, relying on multiple employers for their income and to accrue health and pension benefits – which they can only accrue each time they work an engagement. While we applaud employers for taking all the necessary steps to ensure our members, fellow colleagues, and audience members are safe from the spread of this pandemic, the reality is that as musicians lose work for unpredictable amounts of time, their financial security is threatened. This does not just affect freelance musicians, but all our colleagues in the arts eco-system – hard-working actors, choristers, stage managers, crew members, ticket-sellers, and ushers who work in tandem to make the show go on.

As such, today I call on Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo to take action to ensure that musicians and other impacted cultural workers are covered during this time of crisis. As theaters and concert halls go dark, we must ensure that musicians and other arts workers are not left behind. We call on all relevant government agencies to work immediately to put together and pass a strong economic relief package that ensures all arts workers have access to health care and unemployment benefits while their workplaces are shuttered. Immediate action is required not only to protect public health, but arts funding at all levels. This will provide arts employers the resources they need to quickly recover and reopen when appropriate. New York benefits from one of the most dynamic and profitable arts and entertainment sectors in the world – we must ensure that all the workers who keep this sector running are taken care of during this pandemic and able to get back on strong economic footing when the crisis passes.”

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COMMUNICATIONS TO MEMBERS FROM LOCAL 802

ATTENTION BROADWAY MUSICIANS: all email communications around COVID-19 are now accessible via the 802 member portal. Log in to your member portal at info.local802afm.org and look for the button labeled “COVID-19 Broadway Updates,” where we will continue adding new email communications as they are sent out. Stay safe and healthy!

*please note, to avoid redundancy, we stripped the parts of these emails that remind members to check this very page for updates. 

Email: Friday, March 27, 2020

Local 802 Legislative Update

Friday, March 27, 2020

Thank you to everyone who called, emailed, and tweeted at their elected representatives! Our power as an entertainment workforce has made a real difference in ensuring that freelance and gig workers are not left behind during the coronavirus pandemic. Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a stimulus package that will extend unemployment benefits to workers who earn income through contract work and freelance jobs. This relief package has already passed the U.S. Senate and is now headed to the president’s desk for a signature.

The AFM has posted the full text of the bill here for your review and provided the below summary of provisions that are relevant to musicians:

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

  • Temporary 39-week program to provide payment to freelancers, gig workers, and others not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits who are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19 emergency.
  • The minimum benefit equals one-half of your state’s average weekly unemployment benefit plus $600.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)

  • Additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance for employee-classified workers who have exhausted or will exhaust state unemployment benefits.
  • Provides an additional $600 per week for anyone receiving regular state unemployment insurance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

2020 Recovery Rebates

  • This is a one-time cash benefit to households of $1,200 per adult ($2,400 per couple) and $500 per child.
  • People earning $75,000 ($150,000 jointly) or less will receive the full amount. This phases-out for people earning more than $99,000 ($198,000 jointly) with no children.

Arts Funding

  • $150 million to state agencies to provide grants and support to arts organizations.
  • $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts and $75 million for the National Endowment of the Humanities.
  • $75 million for the the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) which supports PBS and NPR.

We will share more information on accessing these unemployment benefits as it becomes available.


Take Action Now for a 90-Day NYS Rent Freeze

While this is amazing news on a federal level, the fight continues on a local level to ensure musicians and other workers are supported during the pandemic. As April 1 quickly approaches, many of us are worried about making rent payments while out of work. We are supporting Senate bill S8125 to cancel rent for residential and commercial tenants in New York for 90 days, introduced by Michael Gianaris, the Deputy Majority Leader of the New York State Senate.

  • Sign and share this petition.
  • Endorse the bill on its official New York State Senate homepage.
    • Look for “DO YOU SUPPORT THIS BILL?”
    • Click “AYE” and fill out the required fields
    • In the field that reads “include a custom message for your Senator?”, add a note asking that the bill suspend rent for ALL individuals and organizations paying rent in New York.
  • Contact the Governor and your State Senator!
    • Use this form to contact Governor Andrew Cuomo.
    • Identify your State Senator at http://www.mygovnyc.org/ Type in your address and click on the “State” tab. Use the email listed under your NYS STATE SENATE member.
    • Send your emails using the below script!

Email Subject: I Support Bill S8125

My name is [name] and I live in your district. I am calling on you to support Senate bill S8125 that Michael Gianaris proposed to cancel rent for both residential and commercial tenants for 90 days.

*Important Note: a moratorium on evictions in New York State is in effect as of 5 PM on Monday, March 16. Our friends at the Right to Counsel Coalition have published a handy FAQ on what the eviction moratorium means for renters.


Keep the Pressure On: Renew the COBRA Subsidy Program

Finally, as we wrote you about earlier in the week, entertainment workers in New York are keeping the pressure on our NYS elected officials to renew the COBRA subsidy healthcare program. This program, which pays 50% of monthly COBRA premiums for entertainment union members for 12 months, has kept over 1,150 entertainment workers on their healthcare over the past decade. We must ensure it does not expire at this critical time, when many musicians will otherwise fall short of qualifying for healthcare coverage due to cancelled work during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Call and write our elected officials and let them know to renew the COBRA subsidy healthcare program.

SAMPLE EMAIL SCRIPT:

Dear [Elected Official],

My name is ___. I am a Local 802 AFM union musician writing to request that New York state renew its COBRA subsidy healthcare program. For union members like me, who have lost all our work due to the coronavirus, this program is critical to keeping me on my health plan.

With theaters, film and TV productions, recording studios, and music venues shuttered, our entire industry is in crisis. Musicians and our entertainment worker colleagues have been sent home without knowing when our workplaces will reopen.

Thank you for reading my message; I ask that you work with Local 802 AFM to renew this critical program.

In solidarity,

[Name]

SAMPLE PHONE SCRIPT:

My name is [name] and I am a Local 802 AFM union musician calling to ask [elected official] to renew the COBRA subsidy healthcare program. Due to the coronavirus, musicians and other entertainment workers are out of work and have no idea when our workplaces will reopen. Without this critical health subsidy, many of us will lose our union healthcare. Please ensure that this valuable COBRA subsidy does not expire. Thank you!

Email: Wednesday, March 25, 2020 (4:05 PM)

We hope this email finds you and your family safe and healthy. We are working every day to advocate for economic relief for musicians and provide resources for our members at this difficult time.

As you all know, due to the widespread cancellation of our work, many musicians will require government assistance to stay on 802 healthcare. NYC entertainment unions are united in our demand that New York extend the COBRA subsidy healthcare program. This program, which pays 50% of monthly COBRA premiums for entertainment union members for 12 months, has kept over 1,150 entertainment workers on their healthcare over the past decade. We must ensure it does not expire at this critical time.

Take action today! Call and write our elected officials and let them know to renew the COBRA subsidy healthcare program. Scroll to the bottom of this email for suggested email and phone scripts.

Stay home and stay healthy! Together we can flatten the curve and get through this difficult time as a community.

In solidarity,

President Adam Krauthamer

SAMPLE EMAIL SCRIPT:

Dear [Elected Official],

My name is ___. I am a Local 802 AFM union musician writing to request that New York state renew its COBRA subsidy healthcare program. For union members like me, who have lost all our work due to the coronavirus, this program is critical to keeping me on my health plan.

With theaters, film and TV productions, recording studios, and music venues shuttered, our entire industry is in crisis. Musicians and our entertainment worker colleagues have been sent home without knowing when our workplaces will reopen.

Thank you for reading my message; I ask that you work with Local 802 AFM to renew this critical program.

In solidarity,

[Name]

SAMPLE PHONE SCRIPT:

My name is [name] and I am a Local 802 AFM union musician calling to ask [elected official] to renew the COBRA subsidy healthcare program. Due to the coronavirus, musicians and other entertainment workers are out of work and have no idea when our workplaces will reopen. Without this critical health subsidy, many of us will lose our union healthcare. Please ensure that this valuable COBRA subsidy does not expire. Thank you!

Email: Wednesday, March 25, 2020 (10:23 AM)

Dear Local 802 Members,

The officers and Executive Board voted unanimously yesterday morning to support this industry wide petition and bring it to your attention. A coalition of artist organizations approached Local 802 and asked for our help to inform Congress that the stimulus package they are about to vote on should include unemployment benefits for those of our brothers and sisters that are categorized as independent contractors and will not have access to any form of unemployment benefit or sick pay.

The good news is that, as of this morning, the stimulus package includes “a new pandemic unemployment assistance program, which would provide jobless benefits to independent contractors, gig economy workers, and the self-employed, who typically don’t qualify for such assistance.” (Read more here.)

Let’s keep the pressure on and make sure this version of the bill, which protects the most vulnerable in our community, is passed and signed into law.

Here is the letter they are sending to members of the House and Senate:

Dear ____, 

We are music professionals: Union and non-union; DJ’s and instrumentalists; established artists and emerging talents that perform in all genres across the music industry. We join together now to ask your help so that our working communities can economically survive the COVID-19 crisis. Most of us earn our living from touring and live performance and have just seen over 2-3 months of work cancelled without warning. This could potentially be much more as bookings often take months to reschedule.

The COVID-19 crisis has affected everyone; but those of us categorized as self-employed or independent contractors, and thus unable to access unemployment benefits, are particularly vulnerable. Tens of thousands are now without work, have no possibility of finding work, or access to any form of unemployment benefit or sick pay.

We join Local 802 AFM, IATSE, SAG-AFTRA, and the Freelancers Union in calling for an increase and expansion of unemployment to all workers. We ask for your help to ensure that the next Federal relief package includes the extension of unemployment and other benefits to all musicians, DJ’s, and all gig economy workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19. We also ask that workers be able to use any income–including 1099 earnings and demonstrable anticipated future income wiped out by COVID-19–to apply for unemployment and other benefits.

Sign the petition here!

Please sign and help make sure no artist is left behind in this crisis.

Sincerely,

The Local 802 AFM Officers and Executive Board

Email: Monday, March 23, 2020

There are no words to describe the evolving crisis that all of us are experiencing right now. The pain and confusion are possibly at the highest level that many of us have ever felt, and I don’t have to list all the many ways our lives are changed for the moment. I think the most useful approach is to focus on the positive things that we can do for each other as a union and as fellow musicians. I also want us to stay focused on the big picture and have hope for the future.

UNION UPDATES

First, be advised that the Local 802 building is closed until further notice, in compliance with Governor Cuomo’s stay-at-home order that went into effect on March 22, 2020 at 8 PM. However, your business representatives continue to be available to you remotely during Local 802’s business hours of Monday through Friday, 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM, to answer any contract questions. Find the staff directory here to email and/or call individual business reps.

If you’re a member who works on Broadway, check the “COVID-19 Broadway Updates” button in the member portal at info.local802afm.org for the most recent bargaining unit updates.


ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE FROM HOME RIGHT NOW

As bad as this situation is, remember that everyone is in the same boat. We all want the coronavirus to be eradicated, to get back to work, and get kids back in school. As a society, we have enough people power to demand relief from our elected officials, and they realize that. We must use this collective power with one voice to call on every level of government to support.

  • Click here to write your representatives and demand relief for musicians and other entertainment workers. Our allies at IATSE and Actors’ Equity also have letters you can sign and share.
  • Call your representatives at 202-224-3121 and ask them to ensure that entertainment workers, including anyone who relies on contract work, tipped jobs, or freelance gigs, are included in any government relief bill for workers impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Take the NYC Office of Nightlife COVID-19 impact survey before it closes on Friday, March 27! The feedback the Office of Nightlife receives from musicians and other nightlife workers will be shared with city, state, and federal governments to help inform policy decisions.
  • Sign the League of American Orchestras petition demanding relief for nonprofit orchestras and musicians impacted by COVID-19.
  • Use this unexpected free time to respond to the U.S. Census online or by phone! Union members know how important getting counted is for our communities. Get counted by going to laborcounts2020.org and entering your contact info – it will take you straight to the Census form! Already counted? Fill out the form at http://bit.ly/LaborImCounted

A MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT ADAM KRAUTHAMER

STAY AT HOME – FLATTEN THE CURVE!

I’d like to focus on the big picture for a moment. As painful as our situation is for our jobs, please remember experts have said that more than two million Americans are literally at risk of dying if we don’t contain the coronavirus. Another report said that New York doesn’t own enough ventilators if thousands of people were to be admitted to area hospitals. We’re being asked to think not just about our own health, but also about the most vulnerable in society, including older people: our parents, grandparents, and elders. It is now clear that younger people are vulnerable too. Our job is to “flatten the curve,” to limit the exponential growth of the virus — and the stakes are literally life or death.

Here’s another thing to think about. Many musicians live on the margin to begin with, but there’s always someone who’s in a worse situation. As anxious as we are right now, let’s also try to keep in mind the things that we can be grateful for in this moment. One thing that I am grateful for is the outpouring of support from our own community for the Local 802 Musicians’ Emergency Relief Fund. Please click here to donate. Since the 802 office is closed until further notice, we strongly encourage donating online. If you can’t donate, you can still help spread the word by sharing our posts on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.

I would also like to thank the many workers who are on the front lines and who are exposing themselves so that society can continue. I’m thinking not just of health care workers but also those who work in grocery stories, pharmacies, gas stations, public transportation, and other places deemed essential services.

We know in reality that this crisis won’t last forever. Scientists are working on treatments and early vaccines right now. As I write these words, new coronavirus cases in certain hotspots around the world are already decreasing. There will be a time when we’ll be able to look back on this. The question will be, can we learn from this experience so that we’re better prepared as a society (or as a union) next time? What can we do better?

I want to encourage all of us to keep up our mental, physical, musical, and spiritual practices. Please remember to reach out to each other, especially to those musicians who you know are more isolated. On social media, there are hundreds of opportunities to connect with fellow musicians. There are ways to give and take lessons and classes via platforms like Skype and Zoom. There are places to share financial tips, life hacks, and even job opportunities.

Local 802 will continue to be your ally during this crisis. Although our building is now closed due to the stay-at-home order and will remain closed for the foreseeable future, we are open for the limited business we can process remotely and are working around the clock to be the best advocate possible under these circumstances. You can always reach me personally at (212) 245-4802, ext. 100 or use our website or Facebook page to reach us quickly.

Even as the coronavirus crisis consumes our lives, there will be light at the end of the tunnel and Local 802 is continuing to work on current projects so that when the crisis passes, we are strategically ahead of the curve. Please hang in there, stay focused on what is really important, hug your loved ones, and we will get through this together. Most of all stay hopeful! Having hope gives us all the courage to survive any hardship and musicians are survivors.

In solidarity,

President Adam Krauthamer

Email (to members and ERF donors): Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Local 802 Musicians’ Emergency Relief Fund Needs Your Help

This is a true emergency for our community of 802 musicians. Please donate now to help musicians who in the face of a public health crisis find themselves out of work and in need of financial support.

While Local 802 AFM applauds government agencies and employers for taking the necessary steps to ensure our members, colleagues, and audiences are protected from the spread of coronavirus, the widespread cancellation of work has left many in our community of freelance musicians without income – and for some, puts them at risk of losing healthcare coverage.

Thankfully, the Local 802 Musicians’ Emergency Relief Fund is here for our members at this difficult time. But we anticipate a huge influx of applications for emergency assistance from the thousands of musicians who are now facing financial insecurity during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, more than ever, the NYC music community needs your help. Give what you can – any amount helps. But please give now!

DONATE ONLINE HERE

Can’t donate but want to help? Forward this email to your friends or share our social media posts to help us spread the word!

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The Local 802 Musicians’ Emergency Relief Fund is a non-profit 501(c)(3), with the mission to provide Local 802’s 8,000+ professional musician members with reliable assistance in times of trouble and dire need.

Email: Monday, March 16, 2020 (4:34 PM)

Local 802 Executive Board to Set Up COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to Help Freelance Musicians In Need

In response to the widespread cancellation of work caused by the COVID-19 epidemic, the Local 802 Executive Board is marshaling all of our union’s resources to help our musicians in need. The Local 802 Executive Board is working in conjunction with the 802 Emergency Relief Fund (the “ERF”) and Musicians Assistance Program (“MAP”) to get musicians this help as quickly as possible.

Effective immediately, Local 802’s Emergency Relief Fund is earmarking a significant portion of its cash reserves in response to the widespread cancellation of work caused by the COVID-19 epidemic. This fund is being set up to aid those 802 members in the freelance community who have received notice that single engagements filed under a local union agreement have been cancelled.

Working through the auspices of the Actors Fund of America (“AFA”), members can present a written notice or email from employers (or contractors) of such cancellation and receive payment to offset a portion of the loss. Please note that since AFA staff is currently operating remotely, any approved funds will be transferred via wire service. As Local 802 and the ERF are determined to assist as many members as possible, full replacement of lost wages is not possible but the goal is to spread the assistance as widely as we can to provide a modest measure of relief to those in need. As of now, the Fund will be able to distribute a flat amount of $150 to members who are approved for relief. Please see the criteria below to make an application for assistance.

While the ERF recognizes the major losses suffered by the Broadway community and those rostered orchestras receiving weekly salaries, we strongly believe that addressing the needs of our most at-risk freelancers should be the first stage of our relief effort. Should the epidemic continue beyond the initial “return to work” dates indicated by The Broadway League, Lincoln Center constituent orchestras, and others, the ERF will reassess the needs of the members impacted and apportion any remaining assets.

Note that the regular work of 802 ERF/MAP to rescue members in dire need due to career, medical, substance abuse, personal, relationship and family crises will continue. The AFA and MAP will follow standard procedures to assess such needs via its intake system and the ERF will participate as it has in the past by contributing to the relief packages AFA/MAP assembles.

Criteria for 802 COVID-19 ERF Grants for Cancelled Engagements

All applicants must be Members in “Active” status and, if requested, produce a Local 802 union card displaying membership paid up to date.

Applicants must have been engaged for per service, freelance work under a Local 802 Single Engagement Club Date (G) or Single Engagement Concert (W) Agreement that has been cancelled. A written cancellation notice sent to the member must be presented. This grant will be made one time during this initial month of shutdowns. If you were booked for a union recording session that has been cancelled please provide that cancellation notice. Grants will be available relating to one (1) cancelled session.

Also eligible are those members who were working a continuous job covered under a collective bargaining agreement that has now been permanently closed due to the COVID-19 epidemic, e.g., a Broadway show, an off-Broadway show, teaching artist faculty, rostered orchestras, 802 members of live TV bands, cancelled theatrical tours emanating from 802 jurisdiction, LS-1 private teaching or solo performance jobs, and Jazz engagements under member-leader agreements. These members should provide a shutdown or cancellation notice.

Updated 3/24/20: Due to the high volume of applications the Actors Fund is currently receiving and to prevent fraudulent claims, the process to file for aid through the Musicians’ Assistance Program has changed. It is also taking up to two weeks to process applications. Please see details below.   

You must fill out this online applicationTo apply, you must have proof of Active Local 802 membership with current Paid Through date, a cancellation notice, and two documents verifying your identity. (Suggested documents include your most recent bank statement, a current lease, rent statement, or mortgage/maintenance statement.) Make sure you have digital copies or scans of the requested documents ready; at the end of the application, you will be asked to upload them. Visit this page to see the Actors Fund’s tips for making your application process easy. 

For members who are able to make contributions to help their fellow musicians during this hard time, the Local 802 Musicians’ Emergency Relief Fund is accepting donations. Click here to donate now – any amount helps, no matter how small!

It is all of our hopes that this epidemic passes swiftly and that our members, their families, and loved ones are spared from illness and long-term hardship. Until that day, your union and the Local 802 Emergency Relief Fund will stand behind each of you to its full capacity.

In solidarity,

The Local 802 Executive Board

The Local 802 Emergency Relief Fund

Email: Monday, March 16, 2020 (2:36 PM)

We hope this email finds you and your family safe and healthy.  As your union, we are working to do everything in our power to advocate for economic relief for musicians and to provide resources for our members at this difficult time. Please find our most recent updates for the 802 community below.

Info on Applying for Unemployment Benefits

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE FOR INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS

An update for musicians who are paid as independent contractors on a 1099 basis – the House has passed the Coronavirus Worker Relief Act which will expand the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program by making those who are impacted by the coronavirus outbreak eligible for benefits. Specifically, the bill will:

Provide access to disaster unemployment assistance for workers, including self-employed individuals and independent contractors, who are sick, quarantined, furloughed, laid off, or whose individual or family circumstances have changed as a result of COVID-19 or government containment efforts;

Waive state waiting periods and work search requirements to ensure that workers can get the assistance they need as soon as possible;

Set a minimum amount of assistance at parity with that of state unemployment compensation laws; and

Assist states in the administration of this unemployment assistance. This bill was endorsed by President Trump and received bipartisan support in the House. It should pass the Senate in short order. We will keep you keep you posted.

APPLYING FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS IN NEW YORK

At this point many musicians are concerned with income replacement during the coronavirus crisis. Hopefully federal funding will be made available shortly and other sources for financial relief will be made available on both a national and local level. One source of income replacement for musicians may be funds available through the Local 802 Emergency Relief Fund. The Local 802 Executive Board is working now to determine exactly how ERF assistance earmarked for COVID-19 economic relief will be distributed. More will be posted on this shortly.

The best option for the moment is for W2 employees to immediately apply for unemployment compensation. Here is a little detail on the filing procedure in New York State. Individuals employed in other states will have to consult the individual law in the states that they work within. In New York, every employer you work for deducts from your wages premiums that are paid into the NYS unemployment insurance program.

You do not need to be employed by one employer during this period of time to meet the eligibility requirements. Wages are amalgamated from each of the employers you have worked for during the eligibility period.

There are three factors to determine whether you will be eligible for benefits:

1. You must have worked for at least 2 calendar quarters (six months) in a year. This needn’t be consecutive, but an employee must demonstrate that they worked during at least two three-month periods during the last year.

2. You must have been paid at least $2600.00 in one calendar quarter.

3. Your total payment over the year must be one and a half times the amount you earned in the highest paying quarter during the year. Thus if you made $2,600.00 during your highest paid quarter your total yearly income must be $3,900.00

If you have any doubts whether or not you qualify, you should file anyway. Your employers have already contributed on your behalf and the NYS Department of Labor will know your contribution levels. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

Further, you must specify the reason for the loss of employment. Employee misconduct, etc. is not a proper basis to request UI. Loss of work due to COVID-19 is a legitimate ground and is a justifiable basis to apply for UI. Place that reason upon your UI application.

The filing should be made against the last employer for whom you worked but understand that each of your previous employers during the last calendar year have contributed proportionally on your behalf.

Normally there is a 7-day waiting period to commence receiving benefits; however due to COVID-19, New York State has waived that period. This means file NOW!

Finally, if you are in a situation where you are unsure whether there will be a payment from an employer at this time, we encourage you to file for unemployment benefits immediately. In that case when filing for unemployment benefits you may appropriately respond that there is no severance or other post-employment compensation. However, please note that if you do obtain some payment from an employer for this period then you may be required to re-pay your unemployment benefits for just those weeks.

Access this website to submit your application: https://www.labor.ny.gov/ui/how_to_file_claim.shtm

You must create an ID and password through the NYS DOL website, but it is a much better process than waiting on line, which we can all appreciate is not a wise idea.

Independent contractors and those who are paid in cash are not eligible for UI. If you fall into that category the ERF may be an option or contact the DOL and see if other relief is available (see above).

Finally, UI benefits last 26 weeks and are available up to $504.00 per week. Part time and seasonal employees can still qualify but will receive proportionally less than the maximum benefit.

To continue to qualify for UI, you must certify that you are ready, willing, and able to work and are actively looking for work – which of course every professional musician is.

We remain committed to serving our members and appreciate your understanding and flexibility during this very difficult time. We are here to help unite and support our community of union musicians. Please stay healthy and never hesitate to reach out for help.

In solidarity,

The Local 802 Executive Board

Email: Friday, March 13, 2020

Local 802 continues to closely monitor the evolving coronavirus situation on behalf of our members. As this situation continues to rapidly evolve, we have new updates on temporary adjusted hours in the Local 802 offices at 322 W 48th St.

New Member Services Work Hours Policy for Check Window & Membership

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic and in consideration of the health and well-being of our staff who commute to work via public transportation, Local 802 has determined that temporary adjustments to the level of staffing and to business hours in both the Membership and Recording departments are warranted. Beginning immediately, we will be operating with reduced staffing that rotates each weekday to minimize any one individual’s exposure while continuing to maintain essential services. Certain work will be handled remotely where possible. We will make our very best efforts to ensure our members’ calls and mail, and those of employers, are responded to in a timely way throughout this period.

So that members can plan visits to the local to pay dues and pick up checks, please note the new, temporary hours: Until further notice, the general hours of operation in the Recording department will be 11 am until 4 pm, Monday through Friday.

NOTE: The Recording check window will be open from 11:30 am until 3 pm Monday through Friday. At 3pm, the check window will close to enable staff to perform necessary administration of the day’s receipts.

Membership department hours are 11am to 4pm, Monday through Thursday.

In the event that your telephone call is not immediately answered, please leave a message and a staff member will respond as soon as possible. Recording business representatives are monitoring voicemails and will respond. As always, Recording Vice-President Andy Schwartz is personally available to answer your questions and help resolve urgent matters related to member services. Andy can be reached at aschwartz@local802afm.org.

Business Representatives Working Remotely Until Further Notice

To safely and effectively meet the public health challenge presented by the coronavirus (COVID‐19), Local 802 is implementing a temporary telecommuting policy for employees who can maintain productivity working from home, which includes your Local 802 business representatives.

Your business representatives will continue to be available to you remotely during Local 802’s business hours of Monday through Friday, 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM, to answer any contract questions. Find the staff directory here to email and/or call individual business reps. If your telephone call is not immediately answered, PLEASE leave a message. Business reps will be closely monitoring voicemails throughout the workday and will respond as soon as possible. However, please note that business representatives will not be present in the 802 building to meet face-to-face with members until further notice.

We remain committed to serving our members and appreciate your understanding and flexibility during this very difficult time. We are here to help unite and support our community of union musicians. Please stay healthy and never hesitate to reach out for help.

In solidarity,

President Adam Krauthamer

Financial Vice-President Karen Fisher

Recording Vice-President Andy Schwartz

Email: Thursday, March 12, 2020

Local 802 is closely monitoring the evolving coronavirus situation on behalf of our members. Your safety and security in the workplace is our priority. I also want all 802 musicians to know that we are focused on fighting for your economic well-being during this pandemic as well.

Many Local 802 members make their living as freelancers, relying on multiple employers for their income and to accrue health and pension benefits. While we applaud employers for taking all the necessary steps to ensure our members, fellow colleagues, and audience members are safe from the spread of this pandemic, the reality is that as musicians lose work for unpredictable amounts of time, their financial security is threatened. This does not just affect freelance musicians, but all our colleagues in the arts eco-system – hard-working actors, choristers, stage managers, crew members, ticket-sellers, and ushers who work in tandem to make the show go on.

Local 802 will be calling on the Mayor and Governor to put workers first with a strong economic relief package to ensure that everyone who works in the arts and entertainment sector has access to health care and unemployment benefits.

In my full statement, which you can read here, we make it clear that immediate action is required to help all union musicians in New York – not only to protect public health, but arts funding at all levels. This will provide arts employers the resources they need to quickly recover and reopen when appropriate.

We know this period will be a hardship for many 802 musicians, some worse than others. Now is the time to come together as a community of musicians to support each other in whatever ways we can – whether that means raising your voice in support of arts funding in the face of a public health crisis or just making sure a colleague is feeling okay physically and emotionally. We can and will overcome this crisis together.

Below are some organizations that help musicians in time of need:

  • Musicians’ Assistance Program through the Actors Fund
    • Note on current intake procedure, updated 3/24/20: Due to the high volume of applications the Actors Fund is currently receiving and to prevent fraudulent claims, the process to file for aid through the Musicians’ Assistance Program has changed. It is also taking up to two weeks to process applications. Please see details below.   You must fill out this online applicationTo apply, you must have proof of Active Local 802 membership with current Paid Through date, a cancellation notice, and two documents verifying your identity. (Suggested documents include your most recent bank statement, a current lease, rent statement, or mortgage/maintenance statement.) Make sure you have digital copies or scans of the requested documents ready; at the end of the application, you will be asked to upload them. Visit this page to see the Actors Fund’s tips for making your application process easy. 
  • Local 802 Musicians’ Emergency Relief Fund
  • Max’s Kansas City Project
  • Musicians Foundation Aid
  • Sweet Relief Musicians Fund

And more resources are available on the Local 802 Resource Center here.

We are here to help unite and support our community of union musicians.  Please stay healthy and never hesitate to reach out for help.

In solidarity,

President Adam Krauthamer

Email: Monday, March 9, 2020

On Monday, March 9, the following email was sent to Local 802 members regarding the developing COVID-19 situation:

We’re reaching out to ensure our community of Local 802 musicians has all the resources and information needed during the developing U.S. coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. As your union, Local 802 AFM is here to ensure our employers are taking all the necessary precautions to protect musicians and prevent the spread of the virus.

If you have any concerns about the way your employer is responding to the developing COVID-19 outbreak, your first line of defense is always your 802 business representative. In the event that any scheduled work is cancelled, your 802 business rep is available to ensure the employer is following the appropriate language in the contract. Find the 802 staff directory here.

In addition to closely monitoring the developing COVID-19 situation, leadership is working closely with staff to prepare for any scenarios in which this outbreak could disrupt member services. Local 802 AFM will immediately be in touch should the developing coronavirus situation disrupt any union events, meetings, or general operations in the building.

As a safety precaution, we strongly urge all members and staff to stay home from work and avoid coming into the Local 802 office if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms – or if a member of your household is unwell. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention website includes updates on this developing situation, as well as helpful resources on COVID-19 symptoms, prevention and treatment, and what to do if you’re sick.

In solidarity,

The Local 802 Executive Board

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COMMUNICATIONS FROM LOCAL 802 EMPLOYERS

The Broadway League – effective 3/12/20, all Broadway shows closed through 4/12/20

Please find the Broadway League’s statement below. For any specific contract questions, contact your Broadway rep Theresa Couture.

BROADWAY THEATRES TO SUSPEND PERFORMANCES THROUGH APRIL 12, 2020

(New York, NY) – March 12, 2020

Under the direction of Governor Andrew Cuomo, Broadway shows in New York City will suspend all performances immediately in support of the health and well-being of the theatregoing public, as well as those who work in the theatre industry. Performances will commence the week of April 13, 2020.

“Our top priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of Broadway theatregoers and the thousands of people who work in the theatre industry every day, including actors, musicians, stagehands, ushers, and many other dedicated professionals,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League. “Broadway has the power to inspire, enrich and entertain, and together we are committed to making that vital spirit a reality.  Once our stages are lit again, we will welcome fans back with open arms so that they can continue to experience the joy, heart, and goodwill that our shows so passionately express every night.”

Those holding tickets for performances through April 12, 2020 should contact their point of purchase for refunds and exchanges.

The Broadway League will continue to closely monitor the evolving coronavirus situation on behalf of the Broadway community and make decisions as circumstances require, in accordance with guidelines from the CDC and state and local health officials.

For further information, please visit broadwayleague.com

Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall – effective 3/12/20, all performances and rehearsals canceled through 3/31/20

Local 802 employers who operate out of Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall – including but not limited to the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic – announced on March 12, 2020 that all performances and rehearsals will be canceled through March 31. Please find a statement from Peter Gelb below. For any specific contract questions, contact President Adam Krauthamer.

Dear Members of the Company,

In response to the public health emergency and in consultation with the office of the Mayor, effective immediately, all Met performances and rehearsals will be canceled through March 31. We are announcing this closure at the same time as other cultural institutions, including the New York Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall.

With health authorities urging social distancing with greater emphasis, it is simply untenable for us to continue to perform, as it puts our artists, staff, and audiences at risk.

The situation has been evolving rapidly and I thank you for understanding that we have had to move quickly and make this announcement without warning to our artists and staff. I am sure you will have many questions which we will do our best to answer over the course of the day.

I would like to express my deep personal regret that the situation has led us to this point and to thank all the members of the Met company for your extraordinary strength, patience, and resilience during this unprecedented and uncertain time.

Sincerely,

Peter Gelb

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802 ORCHESTRA HEALTH BENEFITS SHORTFALL FUNDS

Local 802 has negotiated a health benefits Shortfall Fund in several orchestra contracts to help freelance orchestra musicians maintain their health insurance. The musicians on the Primary Hiring Lists of these orchestras may apply for contributions from the funds to reach either Plan A or Plan B as long as they have at least some contributions in the plan for the covered period. The shortfall fund may not be utilized to move from Plan A to Plan A+.

How the fund works:
Currently, members must have $500 in contributions for Plan B and $2000 in contributions for Plan A per six-month period. Each musician may access his or her own account through the member portal on the Local 802 website. Musicians may then submit a request for the anticipated shortfall amount to the Concert Department along with the list of orchestras on which the musician is a rostered member. Please note that the contribution period for musicians receiving benefits just ended. Musicians may not apply for shortfall funds until July 1st.

The dollar amount needed will be divided amongst the participating orchestras up to, in most cases, $500. The funds are distributed on a first come, first served basis. We anticipate that the shortfall funds will be utilized to a greater extent during the next contribution period than in the past and will be working with employers to help keep as many musicians covered as possible.

Members of any of these orchestras who have contract questions or questions about how the shortfall funds work should contact Financial Vice-President Karen Fisher. Please submit requests for shortfall amounts and questions about specific contributions to Vicki Levy. Please note that the contribution period for musicians receiving benefits just ended. Musicians may not apply for shortfall funds until July 1st. As usual, any questions about the 802 Health Fund should be forwarded to the Fund itself.

The following is a list of participating orchestras and their contribution/ liability amounts:

Orchestra Max contribution per musician Max Employer liability (per year)
American Ballet Theater $500 $5,000
American Symphony Orchestra $500 $10,000
Bronx Arts Ensemble $500 $3,500
Little Orchestra Society $500 $5,000
Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra $250 $5,000
New York Pops $500 $5,000
NYGASP $300 $3,000
Queens Symphony $500 $5,000
Riverside Symphony $500 $5,000
Orchestra of St. Luke’s $500 $5,000
Stamford Symphony $750 $5,000
Westchester Philharmonic $500 $2,000

 

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INFO ON APPLYING FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

HOW DO I APPLY FOR UNEMPLOYMENT?

This information can also be found on the AFM website.

Unemployment Information: Recent federal legislation gives jobless musicians and other working people larger unemployment benefits over a longer period of time—including those who rely on contract work, freelance jobs, and others who have traditionally been excluded from unemployment insurance. For the first time, 1099 workers are able to receive unemployment benefits!

You can now claim unemployment benefits for an extended period of time (up to four months) and the typical one-week waiting period to start receiving benefits is now waived. Weekly unemployment benefit amounts are increased by $600.

2020 Recovery Rebates: Besides unemployment benefits, musicians may be eligible to receive one-time cash benefit to households of $1,200 per adult ($2,400 per couple) and $500 per child. People earning $75,000 ($150,000 jointly) or less will receive the full amount. This phases-out for people earning more than $99,000 ($198,000 jointly) with no children. People with no federal tax liability will receive only $600. It is currently anticipated that funds will be sent within the next three weeks. You do not apply for this benefit.

Which Unemployment Benefits Do I Qualify For?

Check out this flow chart courtesy of DPE, AFL-CIO.

What Do You Need To File For Benefits?

Each state sets its own unemployment insurance benefits and eligibility guidelines, but you will usually need certain information including:

  • Addresses & dates of all your former jobs
  • Social Security number
  • Driver’s license or state issued ID card number (if you have one)

Where Do You File For Benefits?

  • Federal funds will be distributed to state unemployment agencies, and all benefits are administered through your state.
  • To receive unemployment insurance benefits, you need to generally file a claim in the state where you worked. Info on New York State unemployment listed below.
  • If you worked in a state other than the one where you now live or if you worked in multiple states, the state unemployment insurance agency where you now live can provide information about how to file your claim with other states. Worked outside New York too? Click here for state-by-state resources.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE FOR INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS

An update for musicians who are paid as independent contractors on a 1099 basis – the House has passed the Coronavirus Worker Relief Act which will expand the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program by making those who are impacted by the coronavirus outbreak eligible for benefits. Specifically, the bill will:

Provide access to disaster unemployment assistance for workers, including self-employed individuals and independent contractors, who are sick, quarantined, furloughed, laid off, or whose individual or family circumstances have changed as a result of COVID-19 or government containment efforts;

Waive state waiting periods and work search requirements to ensure that workers can get the assistance they need as soon as possible;

Set a minimum amount of assistance at parity with that of state unemployment compensation laws; and

Assist states in the administration of this unemployment assistance. This bill was endorsed by President Trump and received bipartisan support in the House. It should pass the Senate in short order. We will keep you posted.

APPLYING FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS IN NEW YORK

At this point many musicians are concerned with income replacement during the coronavirus crisis. Hopefully federal funding will be made available shortly and other sources for financial relief will be made available on both a national and local level. One source of income replacement for musicians may be funds available through the Local 802 Emergency Relief Fund. The Local 802 Executive Board is working now to determine exactly how ERF assistance earmarked for COVID-19 economic relief will be distributed. More will be posted on this shortly.

The best option for the moment is for W2 employees to immediately apply for unemployment compensation. Here is a little detail on the filing procedure in New York State. Individuals employed in other states will have to consult the individual law in the states that they work within. In New York, every employer you work for deducts from your wages premiums that are paid into the NYS unemployment insurance program.

You do not need to be employed by one employer during this period of time to meet the eligibility requirements. Wages are amalgamated from each of the employers you have worked for during the eligibility period.

There are three factors to determine whether you will be eligible for benefits:

1. You must have worked for at least 2 calendar quarters (six months) in a year. This needn’t be consecutive, but an employee must demonstrate that they worked during at least two three-month periods during the last year.

2. You must have been paid at least $2600.00 in one calendar quarter.

3. Your total payment over the year must be one and a half times the amount you earned in the highest paying quarter during the year. Thus if you made $2,600.00 during your highest paid quarter your total yearly income must be $3,900.00

If you have any doubts whether or not you qualify, you should file anyway. Your employers have already contributed on your behalf and the NYS Department of Labor will know your contribution levels. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

Further, you must specify the reason for the loss of employment. Employee misconduct, etc. is not a proper basis to request UI. Loss of work due to COVID-19 is a legitimate ground and is a justifiable basis to apply for UI. Place that reason upon your UI application.

The filing should be made against the last employer for whom you worked but understand that each of your previous employers during the last calendar year have contributed proportionally on your behalf.

Normally there is a 7-day waiting period to commence receiving benefits; however due to COVID-19, New York State has waived that period. This means file NOW!

Finally, if you are in a situation where you are unsure whether there will be a payment from an employer at this time, we encourage you to file for unemployment benefits immediately. In that case when filing for unemployment benefits you may appropriately respond that there is no severance or other post-employment compensation. However, please note that if you do obtain some payment from an employer for this period then you may be required to re-pay your unemployment benefits for just those weeks.

Access this website to submit your application: https://www.labor.ny.gov/ui/how_to_file_claim.shtm

You must create an ID and password through the NYS DOL website, but it is a much better process than waiting on line, which we can all appreciate is not a wise idea.

Independent contractors and those who are paid in cash are not eligible for UI. If you fall into that category the ERF may be an option or contact the DOL and see if other relief is available (see above).

Finally, UI benefits last 26 weeks and are available up to $504.00 per week. Part time and seasonal employees can still qualify but will receive proportionally less than the maximum benefit.

To continue to qualify for UI, you must certify that you are ready, willing, and able to work and are actively looking for work – which of course every professional musician is.

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NOTICE TO 802 HEALTH PLAN PARTICIPANTS RE: COVID-19 TESTING

For all plan participants in the Local 802 health fund, please review the below press release from Aetna.

Diagnostic testing and telemedicine visits available with no co-pay

March 6, 2020, WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) today announced several steps to support Aetna members in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Supporting the health and well-being of our members and removing barriers to care are among our key areas of focus as we navigate the spread of COVID-19,” said Karen S. Lynch, President, Aetna and Executive Vice President, CVS Health. “That’s why we’re providing COVID-19 diagnostic testing and telemedicine visits with no out-of-pocket costs or cost sharing for Aetna members, along with a number of other programs and offerings that reinforce our commitment to delivering timely and seamless access to care.”

CVS Health has engaged with public health experts and organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to spread awareness of emergency preparedness efforts. Through its frequently-updated COVID-19 resource center, the company is providing the latest information on precautions consumers should take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and who should seek medical attention.

Effective immediately, Aetna members will have access to the following resources:

Aetna will waive co-pays for all diagnostic testing related to COVID-19. This policy will cover the test kit for patients who meet CDC guidelines for testing, which can be done in any approved laboratory location. Aetna will waive the member costs associated with diagnostic testing at any authorized location for all Commercial, Medicare and Medicaid lines of business. Self-insured plan sponsors will be able to opt-out of this program at their discretion.

For the next 90 days, Aetna will offer zero co-pay telemedicine visits for any reason. Aetna members should use telemedicine as their first line of defense in order to limit potential exposure in physician offices. Cost sharing will be waived for all video visits through the CVS MinuteClinic app, Aetna-covered Teladoc offerings and in-network providers delivering synchronous virtual care (live video-conferencing) for all Commercial plan designs. Self-insured plan sponsors will be able to opt-out of this program at their discretion.

Through existing care management programs, Aetna will proactively reach out to members most at-risk for COVID-19. Care managers will walk members through what they can do to protect themselves, where to get information on the virus, and where to go to get tested.

CVS Health is implementing the following programs to educate members about COVID-19 and help address any associated anxiety and stress:

  1. Opening Crisis Response Lines for all Aetna (Commercial, Medicare, Medicaid) and Caremark members who may be experiencing anxiety related to COVID-19.
  2. Expanding 24×7 access to the Aetna Nurse Medical Line for all Aetna and Caremark members.

Anyone presenting symptoms compatible with COVID-19 should contact their health care provider immediately.

About CVS Health

CVS Health employees are united around a common goal of becoming the most consumer-centric health company in the world. We’re evolving based on changing consumer needs and meeting people where they are, whether that’s in the community at one of our nearly 10,000 local touchpoints, in the home, or in the palm of their hand. Our newest offerings from HealthHUB locations that are redefining what a pharmacy can be, to innovative programs that help manage chronic conditions are designed to create a higher-quality, simpler and more affordable experience. Learn more about how we’re transforming health at http://www.cvshealth.com.

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SUMMARY OF NYS ASSEMBLY BILL #10153 GUARANTEEING SICK LEAVE AND BENEFITS FOR WORKERS UNDER QUARANTINE OR ISOLATION

The State of NY Assembly has put forth a bill, # 10153, as described:

An Act providing requirements for sick leave and the provision of certain employee benefits when such employee is subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19.

Summary: This Act, if passed in the NYS Assembly and enacted, would regulate the terms for employers and employees pertaining to paid and unpaid sick leave during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the pertinent terms are:

Employers with 10 or fewer employees as of 1/1/2020 with net income one million dollars or less in the previous tax year  must provide unpaid sick leave until termination of order of quarantine or isolation. Those employees would be eligible for paid family leave benefits under this act.

Employers with 10 or fewer employees as of 1/1/2020 with net income greater than one million dollars in the previous tax year must provide at least 5 days paid sick leave. After that time employees are eligible for paid family leave and unpaid sick time.

Employers with 11-99 employees as of 1/1/2020 would provide 5 days paid sick leave. After that employees would be eligible for paid family leave benefits and unpaid sick time.

Employers with 100+ employees as of 1/1/2020 would provide at least 14 days paid sick leave.

Public employees would receive at least 14 days paid sick leave.

All employees upon return to work would have full restoration of position and pay.

No threats, penalties, discrimination or retaliation are allowable.

No paid sick leave would be allowed if an employee returned from travel to a country that CDC had posted health notices and was notified prior to travel, unless part of employees’ job duties or at direction of employer. Such employee would only be entitled to accrued leave or unpaid sick leave.

Workers compensation and disability are payable concurrently with first full day of quarantine or isolation. Employees may not collect more than $840.70 in paid family leave and $2,043.92 in disability per week.

The total weekly worker’s compensation benefit under this act is the difference between family leave benefit and that paid by a covered employer, up to $2,043.92

Closure of employer under this Act – no waiting period to claim benefits

Order of quarantine or isolation is sufficient proof to make a paid sick leave claim.

Payment under this article is not applicable if employee is asymptomatic or not yet diagnosed and physically able to work via remote access or other means.

Rights of employees under CBAs are not to be impacted by the Act.

If the Federal government provides sick leave or other employee benefits then the terms of this Act are not available unless the State terms are better than those of the Federal government and then the difference can be collected.

The Act to take effect immediately. (This bill has been signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and is in effect.)

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AFM-EPF IMPLEMENTING REMOTE OPERATIONS DUE TO COVID-19

See the below correspondence from the AFM-EPF dated March 18, 2020:

In response to concerns about novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Fund Office is temporarily closing and will conduct operations remotely. We are implementing contingency plans to minimize work disruption during this period. The length of this temporary closure will be determined by the guidance of local health authorities and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and directives from State and Local governments.

Especially now, the most efficient way for participants to contact the Fund Office is to submit questions or concerns to use the Contact Us page on the Fund’s website at afm-epf.org Pension specific inquiries can also be sent to PensionSupport@afmepf.org These methods of communication will ensure the timeliest response and will be least affected by the temporary closure.

The Fund Office phone system (212-284-1311) will route to voicemail. Fund staff will check messages regularly and respond as promptly as possible.

Correspondence by U.S. postal mail may be delayed throughout the closure.

We will continuously evaluate Fund Office remote operations during this period and will make adjustments as needed to provide the highest level of customer service possible. We will keep participants apprised if there are any new developments.

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AN UPDATE ON SERVICES FROM THE ACTORS FUND

As the situation with Coronavirus (COVID-19) evolves, The Actors Fund is continually evaluating how they can best promote the health and safety of our community while still providing access to their services. The Fund values the opportunity to bring people together to learn and grow. But with everyone’s health and safety in mind, it’s become necessary for them to close their Los Angeles, New York and Chicago offices and temporarily transition their in-person program offerings to online and phone meetings only for the coming weeks.

You can visit their website at www.actorsfund.org/Workshops to sign up for online seminars on career enrichment, financial wellness, health insurance, affordable housing and more.

Call them for help of you need it at 212.221.7300 ext. 119

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COVID-19 RESOURCES

We’ll continue to compile COVID-19 resources as they come in. Please find below a compilation of resources on prevention, treatment, and travel guidelines:

CDC: Prevention and Treatment
CDC: COVID-19 Information for Travelers
CDC: COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
CDC: What to Do If You Are Sick with COVID-19

OSHA: Protecting Workers During a Pandemic fact sheet
OSHA: Information for Workers and Employers About the Coronavirus Outbreak
OSHA: COVID-19 Control and Prevention
OSHA: Interim Guidance for Business Travelers

WHO: Information and Guidance Regarding the Current Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

COVID-19 Resources (NYS and NYC-Specific)

The latest updates on the City’s response to COVID-19, including recent guidance for the public, businesses, and facilities, information for those who may be unemployed to due COVID-19, and resources for those in specific professions, are available at NYC.gov/coronavirus or by calling 311 (212-639-9675 for Video Relay Service, or TTY: 212-504-4115). You can also text “COVID” to 692-692 for updates and information, or text “COVIDESP” to 692-692 for updates in Spanish.

NYS Department of Health: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

NYS Department of Health/NYS Department of Labor: COVID-19 ADVISORY: PRECAUTIONARY OR MANDATORY QUARANTINE OR ISOLATION AND PAID SICK LEAVE BENEFITS

NYS Department of Health/NYS Department of Labor: Obtaining An Order for Mandatory or Precautionary Quarantine Under Governor Cuomo’s New COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Law

NYC Department of Health: Coronavirus

NYC.gov: Assistance & Guidance for Businesses Impacted Due to Novel Coronavirus

NYC.gov: COVID-19 Services & Resources

Mental Health Services: For those who wish to seek support and assistance during this very difficult time, NYC Well is available 24/7 to connect New Yorkers to a range of free mental health support services. They can be reached by calling 1-888-NYC-Well (692-9355) or texting “WELL” to 65173. In addition, they offer a new guide which includes information on how New Yorkers can access mental health services while staying home, by phone or online. 

City Agency Service Updates: Due to COVID-19, the City has reduced or suspended certain non-essential agency services. A full list of city agency service updates is available here.

Unemployment Assistance: Due to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on New York City’s workforce, the City of New York has developed a list of resources for those who may be unemployed due to COVID-19 or are seeking additional assistance. In addition, ACCESSNYC is a city-run portal for NYC residents to determine their eligibility for more than 30 economic programs and benefits.

Volunteer Opportunities: The City has prepared a list of the different ways to help the City’s COVID-19 relief efforts: 

o    COVID-19 Emergency Supply Sourcing & Manufacturing: Businesses can help source or make products needed for health care.

o    NYC Share Your Space Survey: For those who can offer a space for emergency operations or community outreach.

o    Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Donations: You can schedule a pick-up for high-demand items, such as face masks and gloves.

o    Help Now NYC: Volunteer and donation opportunities.

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EMERGENCY RELIEF RESOURCES

We know this period will be a hardship for many 802 musicians, some worse than others. Now is the time to come together as a community of musicians to support each other in whatever ways we can – whether that means raising your voice in support of arts funding in the face of a public health crisis or just making sure a colleague is feeling okay physically and emotionally. We can and will overcome this crisis together.

Below are some organizations that help musicians in time of need:

And more resources are available on the Local 802 Resource Center here.