Unions approve newsroom COVID-19 guidelines

(Staffers get new safety guidelines for COVID-19)

The DPE Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industry Coordinating Committee (AEMI), which consists of the DGA, IATSE, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), SAG-AFTRA, and the WGAE have teamed up to create COVID-19-related newsroom staffer “safety and fairness” standards.

“Thousands of workers across the media industry have been working through this crisis. News workers have helped tell the story of this pandemic, its heroes and its ramifications,” said the unions in a joint statement. “At the same time, thousands more in the industry have lost jobs along with millions of other Americans. News is essential, perhaps like never before. As parts of our society and economy begin to reopen, we want to do everything we can to make sure media workers have safe and fair workplaces.”

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The standards apply both to still-employed newsroom staffers considered essential employees and the thousands more who have lost jobs due to the pandemic. 

The guidelines they want all news staff employers to implement–they call them “bare minimum”–are: 

1. “All work that can be done from home should be done from home if the worker so chooses, with proper tech support. 

2. “When work must be done in the newsroom, control room, studio, or in the field, basic CDC and OSHA guidelines on social distancing and protective measures should be mandated, with each worker supplied with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).

3. “All worksites and field vehicles should be equipped with sufficient disinfectant supplies and disinfected by professional cleaning crews regularly to ensure the best possible hygiene in all work areas.

4. “Employers should adopt strict contact tracing plans to self-isolate those who may have been exposed to anyone who tests positive or exhibits symptoms consistent with the virus.

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5. “Layoffs, furloughs, and reductions in employees’ hours should only be considered after all other options have been exhausted. Before any reductions in hours/days for freelance and temporary workers or furloughs or layoffs of staff workers, there should be good faith discussions between the union and management (with financial transparency) to settle on the best course of action to ensure high-quality journalism and protect as many jobs as possible during this crisis.”

SOURCE: Deadline