Loring Weisenberger
May 20, 2022

Multi-Union COVID-19 Commercial Safety Agreement Has Been Extended

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The Multi-Union COVID-19 Commercial Production Safety and Testing Protocol Agreement is set to be officially extended through July 31st, 2022. 

The Multi-Union COVID-19 Agreement is a set of best practice guidelines designed to regulate union commercial production. The Agreement’s mandates are the result of collaboration and negotiation by the Directors Guild of America (DGA) , IATSE, Teamsters, and the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP)

In this post, we’ll break down everything you need to know about updates to the Multi-Union Agreement and take a look at its place in determining best practices in the film industry.

Let’s dive in. 

Multi-Union COVID-19 Agreement Extended

On May 11, 2022, all negotiating parties agreed to extend the Multi-Union COVID-19 Commercial Production Safety and Testing Protocol Agreement’s lifespan. The current Agreement is set to expire on July 31st, 2022. 

The Agreement is not yet fully signed, but AICP members are permitted to start implementing its terms as early as May 13th, which means you’ll want to get familiar with changes to those terms as soon as possible. 

With each extension of the Multi-Union Agreement, the negotiating parties have revisited its stipulations with the changing state of the commercial industry and the most updated CDC guidelines in mind. This most recent extension comes with a handful of small but notable changes that just might affect your next production.

Let’s break down the major updates to the Agreement: 

COVID-19 Testing Requirements

COVID-19 testing requirements have evolved considerably over time. 

Current updates to the Multi-Union COVID-19 Commercial Production Safety and Testing Protocol Agreement stipulate that, as a condition of their employment, all crew members and any other workers employed by a production must now be tested for COVID-19 within 2 days prior to the start of their employment.  

The Agreement further stipulates that productions must use one of 3 test types:

  • A lab-based PCR diagnostic test
  • A PCR rapid test
  • A LAMP molecular test

The only exception to the Multi-Union Agreement’s COVID-19 testing requirements is for employees whose work will be exclusively conducted remotely. Any employee physically present on set or at a relevant group working location must be adequately tested before arrival. 

The testing methods outlined above are valid even if a production meets or exceeds defined “Escalation Trigger” parameters (see below). 

COVID-19 Health Screening Questionnaires

Health questionnaires are a simple but critical tool in screening cast and crew members for COVID-19 in advance and preventing or limiting COVID outbreaks within productions of any size. Fresh modifications to the Multi-Union COVID-19 Commercial Production Safety and Testing Protocol Agreement adjust select screening limitations in accordance with current best practices. 

Unless required by law, daily screening questionnaires are not mandatory under the Agreement’s updated guidelines. However, productions are free to utilize COVID-19 screening questionnaires at their own discretion and without providing advance notice to relevant unions. 

To aid productions in maintaining appropriately rigorous standards, the AICP has developed its own daily questionnaire for general use. You can access it here.

Escalation Trigger Requirements

As used in this context, the term “Escalation Trigger” refers to a measurable threshold beyond which the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak is notably elevated and in response to which safety measures must be altered. 

The Multi-Union COVID-19 Commercial Production Safety and Testing Protocol Agreement defines its Escalation Trigger as “eight (8) or more new weekly COVID [hospital] admissions per 100,000 over a seven-day interval” in the relevant metropolitan area (or county if there is no metropolitan area) or Province (in Canada) for a given production. 

The Agreement designates data available from COVID Act Now to monitor Escalation Triggers within the United States. 

When operating in Canada, productions should look to applicable provincial or city authorities. 

Production Zone Modifications

The Multi-Union COVID-19 Commercial Production Safety and Testing Protocol Agreement divides employees into three production “zones” (A, B, and C) according to the risk exposure inherent to the performance of their work duties.

If the Escalation Trigger is exceeded in a “measured geographic area”, the terms governing productions will be found within the previous extension agreement. However, if the area is below the Escalation Trigger, new regulations found in the current extension may apply on a zone-by-zone basis.

Zone A Regulations

The Multi-Union COVID-19 Commercial Production Safety and Testing Protocol Agreement defines production Zone A as “anyone present in the workspace while performers and background actors are not wearing PPE.”

The Agreement stipulates that any unvaccinated employees will be required to take a weekly COVID-19 test in addition to the universally mandated pre-employment COVID-19 test. 

Zone B Regulations

The Multi-Union COVID-19 Commercial Production Safety and Testing Protocol Agreement defines production Zone B as “employees who work on set, but who are not present in a workspace with a performer or background actor while the performer or background actor is not wearing PPE, all Zone B employees while they work during prep, and employees who work in any other are where the production has a footprint that is not an area where ‘Zone C’ employees work.”

The Agreement again stipulates that any unvaccinated employees will be required to take a weekly COVID-19 test in addition to the pre-employment COVID-19 test. 

Vaccinated Zone B employees require no further testing unless they become symptomatic during the course of their employment. 

Zone C Regulations

The Multi-Union COVID-19 Commercial Production Safety and Testing Protocol Agreement defines production Zone B as employees who are “not required to be within six feet of other individuals for longer than fifteen minutes while working” and who “do not come into contact with ‘Zone A’ or ‘Zone B’ Employees in the course of their work and do not come within six feet of each other for longer than fifteen minutes.”

The Multi-Union Agreement mandates that unvaccinated Zone C employees be tested at least once every two weeks using a lab-based PCR diagnostic test. 

Employers may give “good faith consideration” to the staggering of testing for Zone C employees. All test results must be returned within 2 days, and “pool testing” may be used as long as doing so complies with current FDA authorization of the practice. 

Vaccinated employees face no test requirements unless they become symptomatic during the course of their employment. 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The Multi-Union COVID-19 Commercial Production Safety and Testing Protocol Agreement makes several provisions for the implementation of personal protective equipment. 

First, the Agreement requires that employers provide all employees with “face coverings” that employees will wear “at all times while riding in a vehicle with others.”

The Multi-Union Agreement also stipulates that ventilation systems and other measures (e.g. open windows, doors, fans, etc.) should be used to increase circulation of outdoor air whenever practicable in indoor spaces. 

Provided that a performer does not agree otherwise, all make-up and hair personnel are required to wear masks when physical distancing is not possible and the performer is unable to wear their own PPE. 

Finally, the Agreement allows that an employer may implement their own, “reasonable” policy regarding PPE that is more stringent than “the guidance of local government authorities” when the employer does so for the purpose of maintaining a safe working environment.

Visit Wrapbook’s COVID-19 Filmmaking Resource Center

As the entertainment industry continues to work through a global pandemic, learning to conduct business with safety and health as top priorities is more sensitive and critical than ever before. To help filmmakers and other industry professionals navigate the process with as much confidence, ease, and efficiency as possible, Wrapbook put together a COVID-19 Filmmaking Resource Center. It features useful links, tips, and best practice breakdowns, all free for the taking. 

Wrapping Up

The Multi-Union COVID-19 Commercial Production Safety and Testing Protocol Agreement is a living document designed to help the entertainment industry adapt to the evolving needs of its labor force. 

As circumstances continue to change, be sure to keep an eye on the Wrapbook Blog for any updates. Sign up for our newsletter below.

Disclaimer

At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice.  You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.

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About the Author

Loring Weisenberger

Loring is a Los Angeles-based writer, director, and creative producer. His work has been commissioned by a diverse range of clients- from Havas Worldwide to Wisecrack, inc.- and has been screened around the world. Through a background that blends project development with physical production across multiple formats, Loring has developed a uniquely eclectic skillset as a visual storyteller.

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