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IATSE Offers Labor and Infrastructure to White House COVID Response Team to Build Field Vaccination Sites

Stage Directions • Industry NewsTheatre Buzz • January 26, 2021

President Biden has released a national COVID response strategy and issued several executive orders to address the COVID public health crisis. In the plan is a call for the federal government to work with a variety of institutions, including unions, and create as many venues as needed for people to be vaccinated, including stadiums and conference centers.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) workers throughout the country have been working with the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA in arenas and convention centers, and in April they helped convert numerous facilities into field hospitals in response to the COVID-19 crisis. IATSE Local Unions also partnered with Live Events Industry employers, many of whom manage the facilities they propose are converted. Together, they’ve designed a package that can reliably deliver all essential utilities like lighting, power, and oxygen and enhance the overall efficiency of field operations in these converted facilities.

The skills required to convert these facilities are not much different than those required to load in theater productions, rock and roll concerts, and other live events. Working with the field hospital installations designed by the Army Corps of Engineers, the IATSE and its contractors can typically pre-install the rigging, lights, and video within a twelve-hour period depending on the size and logistics of the space. IATSE Locals throughout the country have even developed a series of pre-designed rigs to allow variations based on venue size. The equipment is power washed, sanitized, shrink-wrapped, and can be delivered to locations for installation.

IATSE is uniquely positioned to lead the labor movement in the national vaccination efforts, and in doing so we can put some of our members back to work in the process. IATSE leadership has advised IATSE Stagecraft Locals to coordinate with employers and lobby their State and Local Governments to turn IATSE venues into COVID-19 vaccination sites and/or field hospitals.

IATSE released the following letter that was sent to President Biden formally offering IATSE’s labor and infrastructure to the White House COVID Response Team and FEMA in the effort to build field vaccination sites:

January 25, 2021

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
NW Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

This letter is to formally offer the White House COVID Response Team and FEMA our infrastructure and labor in the effort to build or convert vaccinations sites across the country.

As the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), we are the largest labor union in America representing stagehands, certified riggers, and other craftspeople who work behind-the-scenes in conference centers, arenas, theaters, and other live events venues. As you know, these workers have been unable to return to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they stand ready to do their part when they are called upon.

IATSE workers throughout the country have been working alongside the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA in arenas and convention centers for years in disaster response situations, and in April we helped convert numerous facilities into field hospitals in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The skills required to convert these facilities are not much different than those required to load in rock and roll concerts and other live events.

Working with the field hospital installations designed by the Army Corps of Engineers, the IATSE and its contractors can typically pre-install the rigging, lights, and electric, quickly, and efficiently. IATSE Locals throughout the country have even developed a series of pre-designed rigs to allow variations based on venue size. The equipment can be power washed, sanitized, shrink-wrapped, and can be delivered to locations for installation.

Together, we have a unique opportunity not only to help beat this virus and save lives, but also to get these skilled union technicians back to work. Let’s build back better, together.

Sincerely,

Matthew D. Loeb
IATSE, International President

 

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