IATSE To President Biden: Stagehands Can Convert Theaters And Arenas Into Covid Vaccination Sites

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David Robb
·2 min read
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IATSE president Matthew Loeb notified President Joe Biden today that his union’s members stand ready to help build vaccination sites across the country, or to convert existing entertainment venues and convention centers into vaccination sites in order to get shots into the arms of Americans as rapidly as possible.

The union made a similar offer back on Dec. 30, when Donald Trump was still president, tweeting: “Stagehands are masters at improvising to get the job done for the client. We’re ready if this time the client is The American People. It’s not just Covid beds. We are prepared to turn any willing venue or arena into non-Covid treatment facilities, or even vaccination centers.”

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Today, Loeb told President Biden that “This letter is to formally offer the White House Covid Response Team and FEMA our infrastructure and labor in the effort to build or convert vaccinations sites across the country.”

“We are the largest labor union in America representing stagehands, certified riggers, and other craftspeople who work behind-the-scenes in conference centers, arenas, theaters, and other live events venues,” Loeb said in a letter sent to the president today. “As you know, these workers have been unable to return to work due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but they stand ready to do their part when they are called upon.”

Loeb noted that “IATSE workers throughout the country have been working alongside the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA in arenas and convention centers for years in disaster response situations, and in April we helped convert numerous facilities into field hospitals in response to the Covid-19 crisis. The skills required to convert these facilities are not much different than those required to load in rock and roll concerts and other live events.

“Working with the field hospital installations designed by the Army Corps of Engineers, the IATSE and its contractors can typically pre-install the rigging, lights, and electric, quickly and efficiently. IATSE Locals throughout the country have even developed a series of pre-designed rigs to allow variations based on venue size. The equipment can be power washed, sanitized, shrink-wrapped, and can be delivered to locations for installation.

“Together, we have a unique opportunity not only to help beat this virus and save lives, but also to get these skilled union technicians back to work. Let’s build back better, together.”

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