Entertainment Workers Withdraw Over $44 Million from Retirement Accounts Amid Strikes
Summary: Nearly 3,000 entertainment workers have filed for hardship withdrawals from their individual retirement accounts, totaling more than $44 million, as they face months without work due to ongoing strikes in Hollywood.
- Almost 3,000 workers have applied for hardship withdrawals, according to the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plans.
- The average withdrawal amount is approximately $15,000.
Economic Hardship in Hollywood
The below-the-line workforce in Hollywood, including set painters, grips, craft service workers, drivers, cinematographers, costumers, hair and makeup artists, and others, are facing significant economic hardship.
Impact of the Writers Guild of America Strike
The strike, which began on May 2, has resulted in the shutdown of most scripted TV and film productions.
Many workers have been without work since January or even last fall, depleting their emergency savings.
Financial Aid and Contributions
The Entertainment Community Fund has distributed over $6.5 million in aid to 3,100 struggling workers.
The Motion Picture and Television Fund, as well as the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA, have their own strike relief funds for their members.
High-profile individuals in the industry, including Steven Spielberg, Kate Capshaw, Ryan Murphy, and Greg Berlanti, have contributed significant amounts to support out-of-work crew members.
Retirement Plan Coverage and Withdrawal Program
The Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plans cover workers in the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the Basic Crafts unions.
Members participating in the defined-contribution retirement plan can withdraw up to 20% of their account balance, with a maximum limit of $20,000.
Withdrawal Penalties and Taxation
Members who have not reached retirement age will face penalties for early withdrawal, including a 10% federal penalty and a 2.5% penalty for California residents.
Withdrawals are also subject to taxation as ordinary income.
The unions advise members to seek tax advice before applying for hardship withdrawals.
Current Status of Strikes
SAG-AFTRA has also been on strike since July 14.
The Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have not met for negotiations in over three weeks.
Statements from Involved Parties
The studio alliance (AMPTP) expressed the desire for a fair deal and an end to the strikes, acknowledging the impact on various industry workers.
The Writers Guild of America remains committed to negotiating a fair resolution as quickly as possible.