Chair of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Bennett Schiff. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

Close to 40 members of Congress have signed a letter urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to include theater workers and other entertainment workers in any upcoming relief packages. 

The letter comes after the theatrical unions had been lobbying individually and collectively to be included in relief packages granted to workers impacted by coronavirus. All of signatures on the letter are from Democratic members of the House, including Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), whom Actors’ Equity thanked for leading the effort. 

“We are grateful for the leadership of Rep. Schiff and all the members of Congress who have made it clear they understand arts workers need to be protected during this unprecedented health emergency. We will continue to work in partnership with other entertainment unions to make the case that Congress must act,” Brandon Lorenz, Equity’s national director of communications and public policy, said in a statement. 

The letter highlights the need to include freelance, contract and other independent workers in upcoming bills as they often lack the unemployment and paid leave protections given to employees. 

“As Members representing many constituents who work in film, television, theater, and live music, we urge you to include protections for those who have lost work due to coronavirus-related cancellations and postponements in the entertainment industry. Due to the unique, sporadic nature of work in this industry, we believe that benefits provided to these workers should be calculated based on verifiable anticipated earnings for a current or future contract that has been cancelled, rather than prior wage history,” the letter reads.