Unions and Studios Agree to New Rules for Safe Productions

Hollywood unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers inked new safety protocols to enable the return of film and TV productions after six months of inactivity due to COVID-19. The Directors Guild of America, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Basic Crafts unions and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists inked the deal after months of negotiation. On June 12th, the unions adopted the “Safe Way Forward” protocols.

AP News reports that, “the deal includes mandatory and comprehensive use of personal protective gear and testing of cast and crew members, and a dedicated coronavirus supervisor to oversee it all” in addition to a “zone system” that “strictly limits interactions between people on sets based on their job’s requirements.”

Because on-camera work won’t allow personal protection, actors will be tested often, as will crew members who interact with more people. Other measures give each employee 10 days of paid COVID-19 sick leave, “which can be used after positive tests or when quarantine is necessary.” Employees who use the leave “must be reinstated so long as their jobs still exist.”

It notes that, although “some film and television productions have already resumed based on smaller separate agreements,” the larger shows have delayed a return to production, waiting for “the pandemic to subside and for this deal to be reached.”

Deadline reports that, “the Industry-Wide Labor Management Safety Committee Task Force had issued return-to-work protocols on June 1” but, with this agreement in place, the unions stated that, “the protocols pave the way for creative workers, who have been hard hit by the pandemic, to resume their crafts and livelihoods in workplaces redesigned around their health.”

The only tests accepted are “lab-based PCR tests, the gold standards of COVID-19 testing accuracy, or rapid PCR tests used in conjunction with lab-based PCR tests.” Performers and those who come in close contact with them will be tested at least three times a week. “All other individuals in the production environment will utilize physical distancing and PPE at all times,” and those on set when the performers are not present without PPE “must be tested at a minimum of once a week.”

Those in the production office and other off-set areas “must be tested at a minimum of once every two weeks.” Remote workers not in the production environment will only be tested “prior to their first day of employment.”

Each production will also have a COVID-19 compliance supervisor, “responsible for safety compliance and enforcement,” and available to “cast and crew at all times during working hours.” The compliance supervisor or a member of that team “will be physically present on the production from crew call to wrap.”

The new guidelines, says Deadline, are based on “The Safe Way Forward” report that unions “developed in consultation with leading epidemiologists and experts as well as the preceding industry white paper delivered to state governments and agencies to examine the resumption of production.”