Out-of-work backstage crews in the entertainment industry are volunteering to help in the fight against Covid-19.
In a letter addressed to President Joe Biden, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), a labor union representing stagehands, riggers and other crafts people in the entertainment industry, offered the White House Covid-19 Response Team and FEMA its “infrastructure and labor in the effort to build or convert vaccinations sites across the country.”
The IATSE represents roughly 145,000 entertainment workers who help make up the backbone of the film and entertainment industry. Their livelihoods were thrown into limbo last year when Hollywood studios were forced to halt production due to the pandemic.
“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 President Matthew Loeb wrote in the letter, which the union shared on its Twitter account on Monday.
IATSE entertainment workers have experience working behind-the-scenes in conference centers, arenas, theaters and other live events venues, he added.
“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,” Loeb wrote.
This is also not the first time the union is offering to lend a hand. In April, Loeb said workers also helped convert facilities into field hospitals to help fight the pandemic.
“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,” Loeb wrote. “Let’s build back better, together.”
Biden said Monday that he expects that the US will soon be able to vaccinate 1.5 million people a day, raising the bar by roughly 500,000 more vaccinations than its target of 1 million per day in his first 100 days in office
The key factors in ramping up vaccinations are having enough vaccine, having enough syringes and other necessary equipment and having enough people administering them, Biden said.