How the Guild is working in Washington, D.C. to protect writers’ pension and health during the pandemic.

The WGAW continues to advocate for writers in Washington, D.C. as we grapple with the effects of COVID-19. Congress has enacted a three-phase legislative response, including the $2 trillion CARES Act with important provisions for entertainment industry workers. The CARES Act contains a one-time stimulus payment and expanded unemployment benefits for many in our industry who would be traditionally ineligible for state unemployment insurance. As our representatives weigh additional relief measures, we’re advocating to safeguard our multiemployer pension and health plan in the face of unexpected costs and financial hurdles.

Along with other unions, employers, and benefits plans, we’ve called on Congress to protect the pensions of millions of Americans and to ensure we have the necessary resources to weather this storm. While we can’t predict the financial toll this crisis will take, we know that pension plans will suffer losses in the short term. Our coalition is asking the federal government to follow the course taken after the Great Recession and allow pension plans sufficient time to recover from these losses. Congress should permit pension plans like ours to amortize these losses over a longer period of time so we can continue to provide the robust defined benefit plans that are a hallmark of our union.

We’ve also collectively called for greater assistance from the federal government for health plans. This includes first asking Congress to provide a premium subsidy for COBRA so that members who lose their jobs or are furloughed don’t lose their health coverage in the midst of a global pandemic. Allowing workers to remain on their existing employer-sponsored health insurance would protect millions of Americans when they may be most in need. At the same time, we support reimbursement for the medical expenses and prescription drug claims associated with combatting COVID-19.

As Congress shapes the agenda for the next phase of its legislative response, the Guild will continue to work closely with our partners in other unions and the federal government to voice our priorities and concerns.