The American Rescue Plan & Its Effect on Members of WGAW

This is important. Even more important than The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds.

Don’t worry, we didn’t expect you to know that title even if it did win a Pulitzer Prize. Anyway:

via Writers Guild of America West

Dear member:

Yesterday, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan. The statute includes aid for those struggling most due to the pandemic, including employees in industries like ours that have been hit hardest by the shutdown. It also includes financial support for union pension and health plans. We have lobbied our federal elected representatives for years in support of these legislative initiatives.

While the broad focus of the American Rescue Plan is pandemic relief, we want to mention two aspects of the statute of particular importance to the Guild.

Pension Plan Relief

Negotiating increased employer contribution rates for our pension plan was a critical part of our 2020 MBA negotiations. And as we explained during negotiations, our funding needs were linked to a Bush-era federal law designed to encourage “defined contribution” plans (like 401ks), which are subject to the whims of the market, at the expense of “defined benefit” plans like ours. Union defined benefit pension plans have long been a target of anti-union politicians.

In recent years, several large union pension plans in declining industries have been on the brink of insolvency and in danger of having to cut benefits for retired members. The solution to the problem proposed by anti-union forces in Congress was to bail out these failing plans by imposing draconian taxes on healthy plans like ours.

The WGAW, as part of the steering committee of the NCCMP, a national organization of unions and employers, lobbied hard to defend union pension plans from these attacks. The American Rescue Plan does just that by allocating $86 billion to shore up failing multiemployer pension plans. The effect of these grants will be to protect millions of workers’ retirement benefits without endangering the health of our pension plan in the process.

COBRA Subsidy

The American Rescue Plan also includes an important subsidy for WGA Health Fund participants who lost employment and healthcare coverage this past year. We communicated to federal lawmakers the need for this subsidy in light of the economic and healthcare crisis our industry faces. Writers Guild plan participants who elect COBRA coverage after losing their employer-sponsored health benefits will now be entitled to recoup 100% of the costs of premiums for six months during the period from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021. Our Plans will be providing more information about eligibility for this subsidy in the coming weeks.

To learn more about potential benefits that may be available to you, visit the Employment and Benefit FAQs.

Writers Guild of America West

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