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Sahuarita woman sings for Trump: How’d she land the gig? | Local News Stories

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Yvette Serino has had a lot of big moments in her career but she says it was all in preparation for Wednesday, when she sang for the president.

Serino, who lives in Sahuarita, got the call from President Trump’s state campaign manager about two weeks ago, but landing the invite was months in the making. It involved networking, social media, a few nudges and, ultimately, a quickly put-together demo tape to prove she had the pipes to pull off the national anthem in front of 15,000 people.

Serino, who performed as Yvette Gonzalez until Wednesday, says singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” isn’t a moment for just one party.

“People should just remember who we are and what we stand for, and that we all should be united no matter what’s going on in the world. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican, the song should unite America,” she says.

How it happened

Serino’s road to the Trump rally stage at Veterans Memorial Coliseum began at a Pima County GOP event several months ago.

“This is what I’ve always wanted to do,” she told those in the room. The county Republicans got behind her, talking her up among their contacts and friends on the next level and spreading the word that she was exceptional.

Serino isn’t a tough sell in the talent department. She’s opened for big-name country acts for years and was among 195 people who made it to Hollywood for Season 5 of “American Idol” in the 2005-06 season. That’s 195 out of 320,000 who auditioned.

In 2010, she won Tucson Mariachi Idol, and has sung solo or with groups for years at dozens of events.

In November, she attended a campaign event in Tucson led by Trump adviser and daughter-in-law Lara Trump and met campaign workers. She friended them on social media and sent them recordings of her work.

When she got the call earlier this month, she didn’t even know Trump was headed to Arizona.

“Are you available?” a campaign worker asked, without offering any details. They asked for a demo tape “as soon as possible,” and Serino recorded it in one take at a Tucson studio that day.

The engineer, who has worked with big-name acts, was so struck by her voice and intrigued by the mystery surrounding the recording that he said, “This one’s on me,” and didn’t charge her.

“In the middle of the week they did a background check, and this past Monday I found out for sure that I was going to sing for him and that he was coming,” Serino says.

On Wednesday, she, her mom, Connie, and son, Angelo, headed to Phoenix. They arrived at 12:30 p.m. and went inside the coliseum with other VIPs, about six and a half hours before the event began. Thousands outside the arena were waiting to get in at 3.

Once inside, “I met a lot of good people. My son loved it, he even made a T-shirt.” It reads, “Vote Trump.”

“It was very well-organized, everybody was prepared,” Serino says.

She didn’t meet the president — he was busy with dignitaries and high-dollar donors — but she spoke to Sen. Martha McSally, Rep. Debbie Lesko and talked quite a bit with the president’s son Donald Trump Jr.

“He’s totally amazing,” she says of Trump Jr. “They’re just wonderful people. I think a lot of people form opinions, obviously because it’s politics. But I think when you talk to them in person then you really know how they are. I think people would probably change their minds.”

When she was up, Serino faced the largest audience of her career in the packed hall. And, singing a cappella,  she didn’t miss a note.

“As far as the national anthem, I’ve done it my whole life but I realized that I guess I was practicing for something like this because this is so important. I guess it was God preparing me for this moment.”



Pass

Yvette Serino’s VIP pass.

Serino spent the rest of the evening in VIP seating to the side of the stage. She figures she and her family pulled out of the parking lot that night about 10 p.m.

“It was a long day,” she says with a laugh.

What they’re saying

Serino comes from a family with a long history in Nogales politics. She was raised a Democrat and later became a Republican. She knew singing at a Trump rally was going to bring some criticism, especially on social media.

“Some people were happy for me and some people weren’t,” she says. “Some people said some things to me that were not nice. But, I did a post on my Facebook and said I was raised to respect everybody and my grandfather was a politician in Nogales … and he taught me to treat everybody the same and to respect everybody no matter what their party preference was… We never said anything bad about anybody. But now it’s just really changed and has grown into something that’s just so uncontrollable.”



Serino

Yvette Serino, U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko and Serino’s son, Angelo.

Her grandfather, Tony Serino, always told her those who won at the ballot box deserved respect even if you didn’t agree with them.

“I think America has lost that and we have to get that back somehow,” Serino says.

She hopes it isn’t the last time she’ll sing for the president. Her goal? “I want to sing at President Trump’s inauguration when he wins.”

She’s already working on it: “I actually asked Donald Jr.”

Dan Shearer | 520-547-9770

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Gig workers face shifting roles, competition in pandemic | National News

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NEW YORK  — There were the two-hour, unpaid waits outside supermarkets when San Francisco first started to lock down, on top of the heavy shopping bags that had to be lugged up countless flights of stairs.

And yet even after signing up for several apps, 39-year-old Saori Okawa still wasn’t making as much money delivering meals and groceries as she did driving for ride-hailing giant Uber before the pandemic struck.

“I started to juggle three apps to make ends meet,” said Okawa, who recently reduced her work hours after receiving unemployment benefits. “It was really hard, because at that time, I could not afford to stay home because I had to pay rent.”

Okawa is one of an estimated 1.5 million so-called gig workers who make a living driving people to airports, picking out produce at grocery stores or providing childcare for working parents. Theirs had already been a precarious situation, largely without safeguards such as minimum wage, unemployment insurance, workers compensation and health and safety protections.

But with the pandemic pummeling the global economy and U.S. unemployment reaching heights not seen since the Great Depression, gig workers are clamoring for jobs that often pay less while facing stiff competition from a crush of newly unemployed workers also attempting to patch together a livelihood – all while trying to avoid contracting the coronavirus themselves.

U.S. unemployment fell to 11.1% in June, a Depression-era level that, while lower than last month, could worsen after a surge in coronavirus cases has led states to close restaurants and bars.

Marisa Martin, a law school student in California, turned to Instacart when a state government summer job as paralegal fell through after a hiring freeze. She said she enjoys the flexibility of choosing her own hours but hopes not to have to turn to gig work in the future. The pay is too volatile — with tips varying wildly and work sometimes slow — to be worth the risk of exposure to the virus.

“We are not getting paid nearly enough when we’re on the front lines interacting with multiple people daily,” said Martin, 24, who moved in with her parents temporarily to save money.

Alexandra Lopez-Djurovic, 26, was a full-time nanny in a New York City suburb when one of the parents she works for lost her job while the other saw his hours cut.

“All of a sudden, as much as they want me to stay, they can’t afford to pay me,” she said. Her own hours were reduced to about eight per week.

To make up lost wages, Lopez-Djurovic placed an ad offering grocery delivery on a local Facebook group. Overnight, she got 50 responses.

Lopez-Djurovic charges $30 an hour and coordinates shopping lists over email, offering perks the app companies don’t such as checking the milk’s expiration date before choosing which size to buy. Still, it doesn’t replace the salary she lost.

“One week I might have seven, eight, 10 families I was shopping for,” Lopez-Djurovic said. “I had a week when I had no money. That’s definitely a challenge.”

Upwork, a website that connects skilled freelance workers with jobs, has seen a 50% increase in signups by both workers and employers since the pandemic began, including spikes in jobs related to ecommerce and customer service, said Adam Ozimek, chief economist at Upwork.

“When you need to make big changes fast, a flexible workforce helps you,” he said.

Maya Pinto, a researcher at the National Employment Law Project, said temporary and contract work grew during Great Recession and she expects that many workers will seek such jobs again amid the current crisis.

But increased reliance on temporary and contract work will have negative implications on job quality and security because it “is a way of saving costs and shifting risk onto the worker,” Pinto said.

It’s difficult to assess the overall picture of the gig economy during the pandemic since some parts are expanding while others are contracting. Grocery delivery giant Instacart, for instance, has brought on 300,000 new contracted shoppers since March, more than doubling its workforce to 500,000. Meanwhile, Uber’s business fell 80% in April compared with last year while Lyft’s tumbled 75% in the same period.

For food delivery apps, it’s been a mixed bag. Although they are getting a bump from restaurants offering more takeout options, those gains are being offset by the restaurant industry’s overall decline during the pandemic.

Gig workers are also jockeying for those jobs from all fronts. DoorDash launched an initiative to help out-of-work restaurant workers sign up for delivery work. Uber’s food delivery service, Uber Eats, grew 53% in the first quarter and around 200,000 people have signed up for the app per month since March — about 50% more than usual.

“Drivers are definitely exploring other options, but the issue is that there’s 20 or 30 million people looking for work right now,” said Harry Campbell, founder of The Rideshare Guy. “Sometimes I joke all you need is a pulse and a car to get approved. But what that means is it’s easy for other people to get approved too, so you have to compete for shifts.”

Delivery jobs typically pay less than ride-hailing jobs. Single mom Luz Laguna used to earn about $25 in a half-hour driving passengers to Los Angeles International Airport. When those trips evaporated, Laguna began delivering meals through Uber Eats, working longer hours but making less cash. The base pay is around $6 per delivery, and most people tip around $2, she said. To avoid shelling out more for childcare, she sometimes brings her 3-year-old son along on deliveries.

“This is our only way out right now,” Laguna said. “It’s hard managing, but that’s the only job that I can be able to perform as a single mother.”

Other drivers find it makes more sense to stay home and collect unemployment — a benefit they and other gig workers hadn’t qualified for before the pandemic. They are also eligible to receive an additional $600 weekly check from the federal government, a benefit that became available to workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic. Taken together, that’s more than what many ride-hailing drivers were making before the pandemic, Campbell said.

But that $600 benefit will expire at the end of July, and the $2 trillion government relief package that extended unemployment benefits to gig workers expires at the end of the year.

“So many drivers are going to have to sit down and decide, do I want to put myself at risk and my family at risk once I’m not getting the government assistance?” Campbell said.

 

||||



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Gig workers facing extreme new competition in coronavirus pandemic, severe unemployment

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With the coronavirus pandemic pummeling the global economy and U.S. unemployment reaching heights not seen since the Great Depression, gig workers are clamoring for jobs that often pay less while facing stiff competition from a crush of newly unemployed workers also attempting to patch together a livelihood – all while trying to avoid contracting the coronavirus themselves.

In America today, there are an estimated 1.5 million so-called gig workers who make a living driving people to airports, picking out produce at grocery stores or providing childcare for working parents. Theirs had already been a precarious situation, largely without safeguards such as minimum wage, unemployment insurance, workers compensation and health and safety protections.

U.S. unemployment fell to 11.1 percent in June, a Depression-era level that, while lower than last month, could worsen after a surge in coronavirus cases has led states to close restaurants and bars.

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Upwork, a website that connects skilled freelance workers with jobs, has seen a 50 percent increase in signups by both workers and employers since the pandemic began, including spikes in jobs related to ecommerce and customer service, said Adam Ozimek, chief economist at Upwork.

“When you need to make big changes fast, a flexible workforce helps you,” he said.

Maya Pinto, a researcher at the National Employment Law Project, said temporary and contract work grew during Great Recession and she expects that many workers will seek such jobs again amid the current crisis.

But increased reliance on temporary and contract work will have negative implications on job quality and security because it “is a way of saving costs and shifting risk onto the worker,” Pinto said.

It’s difficult to assess the overall picture of the gig economy during the pandemic since some parts are expanding while others are contracting. Grocery delivery giant Instacart, for instance, has brought on 300,000 new contracted shoppers since March, more than doubling its workforce to 500,000. Meanwhile, Uber’s business fell 80 percent in April compared with last year while Lyft’s tumbled 75 percent in the same period.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
UBER UBER TECHNOLOGIES INC. 32.52 +1.84 +6.00%
LYFT LYFT INC. 33.22 +1.40 +4.40%

For food delivery apps, it’s been a mixed bag. Although they are getting a bump from restaurants offering more takeout options, those gains are being offset by the restaurant industry’s overall decline during the pandemic.

Gig workers are also jockeying for those jobs from all fronts. DoorDash launched an initiative to help out-of-work restaurant workers sign up for delivery work. Uber’s food delivery service, Uber Eats, grew 53 percent in the first quarter and around 200,000 people have signed up for the app per month since March — about 50 percent more than usual.

“Drivers are definitely exploring other options, but the issue is that there’s 20 or 30 million people looking for work right now,” said Harry Campbell, founder of The Rideshare Guy. “Sometimes I joke all you need is a pulse and a car to get approved. But what that means is it’s easy for other people to get approved too, so you have to compete for shifts.”

Some workers in the gig economy find it makes more sense to stay home and collect unemployment — a benefit they and other gig workers hadn’t qualified for before the pandemic. They are also eligible to receive an additional $600 weekly check from the federal government, a benefit that became available to workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic. Taken together, that’s more than what many ride-hailing drivers were making before the pandemic, Campbell said.

But that $600 benefit will expire at the end of July, and the $2 trillion government relief package that extended unemployment benefits to gig workers expires at the end of the year.

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“So many drivers are going to have to sit down and decide, do I want to put myself at risk and my family at risk once I’m not getting the government assistance?” Campbell said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Gig Workers Face Shifting Roles, Competition Amid Pandemic

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NEW YORK (AP) — There were the two-hour, unpaid waits outside supermarkets when San Francisco first started to lock down, on top of the heavy shopping bags that had to be lugged up countless flights of stairs.

And yet even after signing up for several apps, 39-year-old Saori Okawa still wasn’t making as much money delivering meals and groceries as she did driving for ride-hailing giant Uber before the pandemic struck.

“I started to juggle three apps to make ends meet,” said Okawa, who recently reduced her work hours after receiving unemployment benefits. “It was really hard, because at that time, I could not afford to stay home because I had to pay rent.”

Okawa is one of an estimated 1.5 million so-called gig workers who make a living driving people to airports, picking out produce at grocery stores or providing childcare for working parents. Theirs had already been a precarious situation, largely without safeguards such as minimum wage, unemployment insurance, workers compensation and health and safety protections.

But with the pandemic pummeling the global economy and U.S. unemployment reaching heights not seen since the Great Depression, gig workers are clamoring for jobs that often pay less while facing stiff competition from a crush of newly unemployed workers also attempting to patch together a livelihood – all while trying to avoid contracting the coronavirus themselves.

U.S. unemployment fell to 11.1% in June, a Depression-era level that, while lower than last month, could worsen after a surge in coronavirus cases has led states to close restaurants and bars.

Marisa Martin, a law school student in California, turned to Instacart when a state government summer job as paralegal fell through after a hiring freeze. She said she enjoys the flexibility of choosing her own hours but hopes not to have to turn to gig work in the future. The pay is too volatile — with tips varying wildly and work sometimes slow — to be worth the risk of exposure to the virus.

“We are not getting paid nearly enough when we’re on the front lines interacting with multiple people daily,” said Martin, 24, who moved in with her parents temporarily to save money.

Alexandra Lopez-Djurovic, 26, was a full-time nanny in a New York City suburb when one of the parents she works for lost her job while the other saw his hours cut.

“All of a sudden, as much as they want me to stay, they can’t afford to pay me,” she said. Her own hours were reduced to about eight per week.

To make up lost wages, Lopez-Djurovic placed an ad offering grocery delivery on a local Facebook group. Overnight, she got 50 responses.

Lopez-Djurovic charges $30 an hour and coordinates shopping lists over email, offering perks the app companies don’t such as checking the milk’s expiration date before choosing which size to buy. Still, it doesn’t replace the salary she lost.

“One week I might have seven, eight, 10 families I was shopping for,” Lopez-Djurovic said. “I had a week when I had no money. That’s definitely a challenge.”

Upwork, a website that connects skilled freelance workers with jobs, has seen a 50% increase in signups by both workers and employers since the pandemic began, including spikes in jobs related to ecommerce and customer service, said Adam Ozimek, chief economist at Upwork.

“When you need to make big changes fast, a flexible workforce helps you,” he said.

Maya Pinto, a researcher at the National Employment Law Project, said temporary and contract work grew during Great Recession and she expects that many workers will seek such jobs again amid the current crisis.

But increased reliance on temporary and contract work will have negative implications on job quality and security because it “is a way of saving costs and shifting risk onto the worker,” Pinto said.

It’s difficult to assess the overall picture of the gig economy during the pandemic since some parts are expanding while others are contracting. Grocery delivery giant Instacart, for instance, has brought on 300,000 new contracted shoppers since March, more than doubling its workforce to 500,000. Meanwhile, Uber’s business fell 80% in April compared with last year while Lyft’s tumbled 75% in the same period.

For food delivery apps, it’s been a mixed bag. Although they are getting a bump from restaurants offering more takeout options, those gains are being offset by the restaurant industry’s overall decline during the pandemic.

Gig workers are also jockeying for those jobs from all fronts. DoorDash launched an initiative to help out-of-work restaurant workers sign up for delivery work. Uber’s food delivery service, Uber Eats, grew 53% in the first quarter and around 200,000 people have signed up for the app per month since March — about 50% more than usual.

“Drivers are definitely exploring other options, but the issue is that there’s 20 or 30 million people looking for work right now,” said Harry Campbell, founder of The Rideshare Guy. “Sometimes I joke all you need is a pulse and a car to get approved. But what that means is it’s easy for other people to get approved too, so you have to compete for shifts.”

Delivery jobs typically pay less than ride-hailing jobs. Single mom Luz Laguna used to earn about $25 in a half-hour driving passengers to Los Angeles International Airport. When those trips evaporated, Laguna began delivering meals through Uber Eats, working longer hours but making less cash. The base pay is around $6 per delivery, and most people tip around $2, she said. To avoid shelling out more for childcare, she sometimes brings her 3-year-old son along on deliveries.

“This is our only way out right now,” Laguna said. “It’s hard managing, but that’s the only job that I can be able to perform as a single mother.”

Other drivers find it makes more sense to stay home and collect unemployment — a benefit they and other gig workers hadn’t qualified for before the pandemic. They are also eligible to receive an additional $600 weekly check from the federal government, a benefit that became available to workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic. Taken together, that’s more than what many ride-hailing drivers were making before the pandemic, Campbell said.

But that $600 benefit will expire at the end of July, and the $2 trillion government relief package that extended unemployment benefits to gig workers expires at the end of the year.

“So many drivers are going to have to sit down and decide, do I want to put myself at risk and my family at risk once I’m not getting the government assistance?” Campbell said.

______

Follow @cbussewitz and @Alexolson99 on Twitter

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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