Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds Fights for COBRA Subsidies for Arts Workers
New York’s current program, which subsidizes 50 percent of insurance premiums, will expire in July unless extended.
The Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds, an umbrella cohort representing theatre workers on and off the stage, has launched a campaign advocating for health care relief in the New York State budget, with a particular focus on industry members who are out of work due to the coronavirus shutdown.
COBUG is urging state legislature, through a letter writing initiative, to provide 50 percent COBRA subsidies totaling $3.75 million—the original funding level from the program’s start in 2004, which has since diminished—allowing for workers out of jobs to retain employer-provided health care with more manageable out-of-pocket expenses.
In its initial letters to members of state senate and assembly health and insurance committees, the coalition noted the effectiveness of the program in the past decade (which unless extended, will expire in July), as well as the roadblocks encountered by switching from previously established providers to networks through the ACA, especially during the pandemic.
Individuals in the various unions are encouraged to write their own letters of support to their local representatives as well.
The collective has issued statements during the pandemic before, including in March 2020—a week after the Broadway shutdown officially began—when the group called on New York City and state government to provide assistance to displaced arts workers in the form of emergency financial and health protections. Individual unions, including IATSE, Dramatists Guild, and Actors’ Equity, has made similar rallying cries.
COBUG is composed of:
- The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, AFL-CIO, CLC
- Ushers, Ticket Takers & Stagedoor Persons, IATSE, Local 306
- Treasurers and Ticket Sellers Union, IATSE, Local 751
- Theatrical Wardrobe Union, Local 764, IATSE
- Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists, IATSE, Local 798
- Association of Theatrical Press Agents & Managers, IATSE, Local 18032
- Actors Equity Association
- American Federation of Musicians, AFM
- American Guild of Musical Artists
- Local 802 American Federation of Musicians, AFL-CIO
- Dramatists Guild of America
- Mail Telephone Order Clerks, IATSE, Local B-751
- Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, SDC