Sidelined Movie Workers Worry About Losing Health Benefits During Coronavirus Crisis : Coronavirus Live Updates "Our jobs are relatively short-term. So traditional emergency leave benefits are things that we can't always qualify for," says camera assistant Kymm Swank.
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Sidelined Movie Workers Worry About Losing Health Benefits During Coronavirus Crisis

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Sidelined Movie Workers Worry About Losing Health Benefits During Coronavirus Crisis

Sidelined Movie Workers Worry About Losing Health Benefits During Coronavirus Crisis

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Each day, of course, we're also hearing of more and more industries that are coming to a complete standstill. In Hollywood, film and TV production has all shut down. And that is impacting more than 300,000 workers. Here's NPR's Mandalit del Barco.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Before the shutdown, Amazon was shooting its new billion-dollar "Lord Of The Rings" series in New Zealand, and James Cameron was working on four sequels to "Avatar." Disney was about to begin filming its new live-action version of "The Little Mermaid." And Warner Brothers was shooting "The Matrix 4" and "The Batman."

But film and television production around the world has shut down. Until now, Kim Swank was working as a camera assistant on the ABC sitcom "Schooled." She says production crew members are a unique workforce.

KIM SWANK: We aren't independent contractors. We're not traditional kind of full-time workers. Our jobs are relatively short term, so traditional emergency leave benefits are things that we can't always qualify for.

DEL BARCO: Swank considers herself lucky because she has some savings. But she worries many won't be able to work the 400 hours every six months needed to qualify for health care benefits.

SWANK: During a pandemic, the thought of potentially losing your health care because you can't work is terrifying.

DEL BARCO: Rebecca Rhine is the national executive director of the International Cinematographers Guild Local 600, which includes camera operators, still photographers and publicists. It's part of a larger union known as IATSE. And they're trying to help 120,000 members now out of work.

REBECCA RHINE: The last thing you want in a health care crisis is fewer people with health care benefits.

DEL BARCO: Rhine says her union is lobbying for members to be included in any federal and state emergency relief aid packages. Mandalit del Barco, NPR News, Los Angeles.

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