Legislative Alert: February 22, 2021

President's Message

Let's All Support our Entertainment Industry

The entertainment industry generates more than $10 billion in economic activity in New York State and is central to tourism, travel, and hospitality. Live entertainment such as Broadway plays, musical productions and concerts at clubs or theatres like Radio City, film and television production, sporting events and countless others, draw millions of people to the state each year.

The entertainment industry also creates tens of thousands of jobs. In addition to the performing artists that we see out front, there are so many other jobs, including stage services and construction, lighting, camera work, sound and audio, ticket sales, security and safety, makeup, hairstyling, personal services and so much more.

It is no secret that the pandemic has devastated the entire industry, particularly live performance venues as these workers and their families have now gone an entire year without work. This in turn affects restaurants, hotels, and local businesses.  

Our economy cannot fully recover until this vital industry is back on its feet and we must do all we can to assist the safe reopening of venues and get our entertainment workers back on the job. The proposals to draw attention to the industry such as pop-up performances can work if we utilize the experienced and trained workers who know the industry and make sure wage and work standards are followed.

And as reopening of venues with limited capacity audiences becomes possible, we must follow union safety standards, social distancing, proper ventilation, and other protocols and ensure both the public and the workforce know those standards. Retrofits and upgrades of venues and facilities should be a part of this planning process and rapid testing procedures for patrons and staff also should be a part of the solution. This will take time, but the process has already begun, and many unions are voicing concerns. We ask that all legislators keep these issues in mind as this develops, as reopening will work only if government and the producers work with unions and adhere to wage and safety standards.  

In the meantime, entertainment industry workers need our help. We must fully fund the entertainment COBRA assistance fund at $3.75 million to help lower income workers in the industry maintain their health insurance until employment is back to normal. This program has worked for many years and we must do all we can to help these workers as we transition and reopen.

Mario Cilento, President

Issue of the Week

          Beat the Pandemic-Incentivize Inoculation-Provide Paid Time Off for Vaccination                (S. 2588A Gounardes/A. 3354B Fall)

This legislation would provide public and private sector employees in New York up to four hours of paid leave to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This leave would be in addition to any paid leave accrued pursuant to law, negotiated agreement or employer policy.

In order to conquer the COVID-19 pandemic, we must incentivize inoculation in every way possible. This bill will increase the number and quicken the pace of vaccinations by making it as easy as possible for people to get vaccinated. The pandemic has also exposed the fact that too many workers simply cannot afford to take time off to receive healthcare. Workers should not be forced to choose between their health and their livelihood. All workers, including essential workers providing vital services that keep New Yorkers safe, healthy, and fed during the pandemic, should know that they will not have to choose between a paycheck and a vaccine.

This bill is a strong first step toward eradicating the virus by removing one of the main hurdles to achieving herd immunity.

Therefore, this Federation urges this bill be passed.