MPTF To Host Food Drive; Nears $1M In Financial Assistance Payouts During Strikes

The Motion Picture & Television Fund will host a food drive August 24 to help out industry members affected by the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Volunteers are being provided by IATSE and Teamsters Local 399, with donations from the Matthew 25: Ministries and Labor Community Services, the non-profit arm of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, which is the primary fundraiser.

The food drive will be held on the MPTF campus in Woodland Hills from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

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MPTF president and CEO Bob Beitcher says the charity has been “flooded with calls” since the Writers Guild went on strike on May 2 and SAG-AFTRA on July 14. “MPTF is closing in on total financial assistance during the work stoppage of $1 million,” he said. “In the past 30 days alone, we’ve received more than 4,500 calls for help with financial assistance. To put that into perspective, in a typical month, pre-strike, we would receive 200 calls for assistance.

“Many are contacting us as well with other psycho-social issues or are identifying these issues in intake/case management conversations with our social workers. A big shout-out here to the MPTF social workers who have been absolutely flooded with these calls for assistance and have carried on, some of them seven days a week, to case manage their existing high acuity clients along with the difficult intake process to help industry members with the required paperwork and interact with their own high acuity needs. As they did with the pandemic, they have met the urgency of the moment with poise and dignity and professionalism and exhibited the ‘taking care of our own’ mission that MPTF embraces.”

Out-of-work crewmembers account for 81% of those intake calls for financial assistance, Beitcher said, noting that requests for financial assistance for the first seven months of 2023 are six times more than what they were for the same period last year.

“There are two factors to point out here,” he said. “One, obviously, is the impact of the work stoppages on the financial welfare of our crews; and the second, less well-publicized, is that the overall volume of production in the last quarter of 2022 and the first four months of 2023 was significantly lower than the same period the prior year, and as a result, our crew community was working and earning less, and thus went into the work stoppage with a reduced financial buffer.

“And distinguishing between the 4,500 calls in the past 30 days and those who actually receive financial assistance from MPTF through the various funds we are administering, 92% are crew members. These include IATSE, Teamsters and Basic Crafts, and certain DGA members. Grants of assistance in most cases are $1,500. We are also administering a fund for The Union Solidarity Coalition, a writer-director group, specifically to help crew members who no longer qualify for union-provided health insurance, with their health insurance premiums. We also provide health insurance counseling through the Entertainment Health Insurance Solutions program.”

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