The free bagels enjoyed each Wednesday by Innovative Artists' overworked, undercompensated, and recently uninsured assistants will be slathered with the delicious schmear of victory this morning, as Variety is reporting that agency president Scott Harris has recanted his belief that benefits were being wasted on his young, hearty workforce and reinstated their health coverage through COBRA. A staffer tells Var:
"We met at lunch yesterday and drafted a letter to Scott and the department heads in L.A. and New York expressing that we would like our medical benefits back," a source within the agency told Daily Variety. "Also that it's unfair to say we don't need benefits because we're young (Scott had offered that among reasons to stop coverage), and it's unfair to deny us coverage flat out. We appreciated it was a tough decision for him to make, but we'd rather keep our coverage than get the small raise he mentioned."
In part, the missive stated that "non-contracted employees are not the only workers upset by this issue. Presently, several agents have offered to share salaries with their assistants to help compensate for our loss of benefits, several outside employers have solicited our services for rival companies, and most assistants are questioning their rationale for continuing to work at Innovative." [...]
Though they've seen "nothing in writing," the mood within the company "is better," the source stated. "People are happy that we won a small battle, and hopefully things will continue to get better. We know it was a big step for him to do this. And now there won't be a boycott on bagel day."
We imagine that the real wake-up call for Harris—other than confronting the possibility that he would return from his German knee-surgery holiday to find his still-smouldering effigy propped up in his office chair—was discovering that some agents were willing to kick in part of their salaries for their affected assistants; such a mutiny of generosity by the most constitutionally avaricious Hollywood caste must have been soul-chilling. As for the Innovative assistants, they can momentarily bask in the afterglow of having won a hard-fought battle, then get right back to hoarding those free bagels to supplement their unchanged subsistence-level wages.