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Gig workers feel left behind when it comes to unemployment help

Posted at 5:32 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 22:37:25-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Some gig workers feel they’ve fallen through the cracks when it comes to unemployment help amid COVID-19.

There’s an entire army of gig workers in Music City like Garrett Halstead with Promo Team Nashville. He makes a living through promotion jobs.

“There’s no events, so there’s no work.” Halstead said.

Halstead and his team go to events like CMA Fest where they represent various companies and organizations.

With events canceled or delayed, many are left wondering where their next paycheck will come from, which is why Halstead filed for unemployment in addition to a small business loan.

He said his scenario is confusing so he wants clarification from the government on whether or not he can give money to his contractors. “I don’t know if a contractor works because they aren’t an employee, they aren’t payroll people, so I’m not even sure if I were to get assistance if I would be able to pay people or how that would work,” Halstead said.

A woman who works in merchandise and live events said she’s in the same boat. “It’s completely upended the entire work force that supports live music, from tech crew to people on stage, to promoters, to the people who work at venues.”

The woman does not want to be identified. She feels something needs to change so gig workers can get financial help.

“Most gig workers that I know are living off of savings, or having to reach out to their parents, which is always fun, when you’re somebody either fresh out of college or in their late 20’s.”

On Tuesday Governor Bill Lee mentioned the assistance programs in a news conference, but not how they apply to gig workers.

“On average we typically see over a 3 week period about 10,000 initial unemployment claims, 10,000 over a week period," Lee said. "Over the last three week period, we're on track to be about 25 times higher than that with 250,000 initial claims.”

Halstead said contractors should be included in that. He hopes aid comes soon for all the people who do promo work with him. “It’s an enormous strain.”