The Motion Picture Industry Pension & Health Plans, which provides benefits to a large number of union members in the entertainment industry, is providing health insurance eligibility assistance in the midst of a double strike that has made qualifying for health insurance difficult for many workers in the industry.

The Hollywood Reporter has learned that certain industry workers will be offered additional qualifying hours in order to be eligible for health insurance during the work stoppages. To keep their benefits, union members who are currently Plan participants must work at least 400 hours in a six-month period. With two strikes effectively shutting down scripted union production in the United States since May, many are finding it increasingly difficult to meet this criterion. Workers will receive up to 201 credited hours to qualify for health insurance under the new rules, depending on the qualifying period that applies to them.

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To qualify, employees must enroll in the Plan prior to the start of their benefit period and pay health premiums. “MPIHP is in the process of identifying eligible Participants and implementing the credit/grant of hours,” IATSE Local 600 said in an email to members announcing the changes. “Participants who are eligible will receive a letter informing them of the hours that have been credited/granted.”

Furthermore, beginning September 1, MPI will allow members to make a single “hardship withdrawal” from their defined contribution retirement plan. Participants can take up to 20% of their 2022 account balance, but not more than $20,000. The one-time withdrawal offer will end on December 31, 2023, according to Local 600. “IAP hardship withdrawal applications will be reviewed and approved for processing by Plan staff within 30 days of receipt of the application and all supporting documentation,” the Local stated.

The board of the MPIPHP is evenly divided between representatives of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — including AMPTP president Carol Lombardini and HBO’s evp labor relations and chief labor counsel Natasha Shum — and labor unions whose members participate in the Plans, including Teamsters Local 399 secretary-treasurer Lindsay Dougherty and IATSE vp and director of the motion picture and TV department Mike Miller.

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The MPI’s action is just the latest to offer help to strike-affected entertainment workers. During the writers’ strike, the IATSE and Teamsters unions each launched financial aid initiatives for members, while the Entertainment Community Fund — a nonprofit charity dedicated to the entertainment workforce — reported that calls for assistance tripled in Los Angeles and doubled nationally.


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