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When Will Illinois Gig Workers Get Unemployment Checks

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Gig workers and other self-employed, independent contractors in Illinois cannot look forward to getting unemployment checks anytime soon — despite a new federal law intended to help them out financially.

The $2 trillion federal stimulus bill that was approved on March 27 cleared the way to expand jobless benefits to many workers who had not previously been eligible, including the vast ranks of drivers for Uber, Lyft and other rideshare apps.

But nearly two weeks later, the officials who run the unemployment system for Illinois have not come up with a process to accept applications from such workers, much less get the promised money into their pockets.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says it’s still too busy dealing with the record number of unemployment claims from other workers who are eligible for benefits under existing programs.

In a statement posted Tuesday on the department’s website, officials told gig workers not to bother applying at this point — and to refrain from calling to ask about the matter.

The new Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act sets aside federal funding for benefits to “independent contractors and self-proprietors” who once could not get benefits “but have become unemployed as a direct result of COVID-19,” officials said.

It’s not clear, though, when the state unemployment agency will be ready to start turning the funding from Congress into reality in Illinois. The U.S. Labor Department issued instructions to states on Sunday.

“Please do not call to inquire about these new federal programs,” according to the statement on the IDES website. “Our employees are processing applications for current benefits. Further details about the new federal programs and how to apply will be made available once they have been finalized.”

In a statement to WBEZ on Wednesday, a spokeswoman for IDES did not say how long the delay will last.

“The stimulus package will take time to implement,” said spokeswoman Rebecca Cisco.

She said state employees are fully occupied trying to field the “large increase in claims for regular unemployment benefits” since a stay-at-home order went into effect on March 20. Last week, for the second straight week, Illinois officials reported fielding a record number of new jobless claims.

It’s yet another blow to many working people who were having trouble making ends meet even before the pandemic, said Lenny Sanchez, a long-time Uber and Lyft driver who lives in Des Plaines.

“It’s a punch in the gut when you hear information like that or a response like that,” said Sanchez, 40, of the statement from IDES officials. “It’s like, ‘Hang on tight. We’ll give it to you whenever it’s ready.’ ”

Sanchez — who’s also an organizer and co-founder with an activist group called Gig Workers Matter — said many rideshare drivers were euphoric when the federal law was approved.

“Some drivers went ahead and started applying as soon as the news came out,” he said. “I’m definitely happy that gig workers were included.”

But he and other advocates for rideshare drivers said tens of thousands of families are suffering deeply because the new system has not been implemented yet in Illinois.

“Rideshare drivers are desperate right now, and they are scrambling to pay bills, pay mortgages,” said Bryant Greening, a lawyer with the LegalRideshare LLC. “It’s really a devastating and trying time for them.”

And it’s not just rideshare drivers who are eager to see the state get their unemployment checks in the mail.

Morgan Ione Yeager, a freelance photographer in Highland Park, said she was “appalled and disgusted” by the delays in implementing the aspects of the CARES Act designed expressly for workers like her.

“They’re really handling it poorly,” she said of the state’s response. “There’s no reason why it needs to be this difficult.”

Yeager said she has lost a lot of jobs with clients in the food, beverage, travel and hospitality industries after the pandemic prompted Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and the governors of most other states to issue stay-at-home orders.

“All of my shoots have been cancelled for March and April at least,” she said. “I don’t really know when I’ll be able to start making money again.”

She said Illinois officials here should at least be able to provide some idea of when everybody covered by the federal stimulus bill will get what they were promised.

“There’s no timeline,” Yeager said. “There’s just no answers and no communication. It doesn’t seem like anybody in my situation is being taken care of at all.”

Dan Mihalopoulos is a reporter on WBEZ’s Government & Politics Team.

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Powderfinger reunion gig draws 350,000 live streams on weekend

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’s stunning One Night Lonely virtual gig on Saturday night drew 350,000 streams, according to guitarist Darren Middleton.

By the end of the 30-minute broadcast YouTube, the donations tally was $427,000. But donations kept rolling in, and at such a rate that it is expected it will reach $500,000.

The money will be shared by and the support service Beyond Blue.

Support Act CEO Clive Miller told TMN its $250,000 share would continue to support its efforts to provide crisis relief and to facilitate its wellbeing and mental health services.

He said more money was always needed: “We’re trying to manage things so we can provide support to people who need it over the rest of the year.

“Things change every day but it is looking clear that we’re not going to have a snap-back and get back to normal … not until the end of this year and probably the beginning of 2021.

“From Support Act’s point of view, we need the liquidity to provide support to people who are facing financial hardship all along the road.”

Powderfinger reunited with Bernard Fanning near Byron Bay, Darren Middleton in Melbourne, Jon Coghill on the Sunshine Coast and John Collins and Ian Haug in Brisbane.

Miller said of the stream, “The production values were incredible, so well done. It looked great, sounded great, and they wanted us wanting more – which is what every great band does.”

Fans hit social media to urge the band to extend their reunion – and increased speculation that Powderfinger will be headliners at the 100% Australian Falls Festival, and a tour will follow.

More money is being raised for Support Act. James Reyne will donate profits to its Roadie Fund from his Sunday, May 31 Red Hot Sundays live streaming session.

It will be the first of the sessions put together by the Red Hot Summer Tour.

The idea is to employ artists, venues, production teams, sound engineers, booking agents, ticketing agencies, managers, graphic designers, publicists and music media at a time when their income is near-nil.

The stream is free, but fans are encouraged to buy a “virtual ticket” from $10 to $100 or T-shirt.

Reyne said: “I’m excited to support this initiative – the invitation to play live and give our industry an opportunity to get back to work, was really appealing to me.”

Reyne will preview tracks from his next album, Toon Town Lullaby, out July 10 on Bloodlines.

The 3 pm AEST acoustic duo show from the front bar of the Corner Hotel in Melbourne and will be live-streamed on the Red Hot Summer Facebook page.

Miller said of the unexpected Reyne contribution, “Like so many people at the moment, there are so many in the music community who are looking around and want to help …

“Support Act is humbled by the incredible support and amazed by the talent, creativity and passion that so many artists are demonstrating at the moment.”

If you or someone you know requires help, please contact Support Act on 1800 959 500.



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Sal Capozucca, Rock Drummer with a Real Estate Gig, Dies at 65

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This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

The Rousers, a rock band formed by a couple of high school buddies from Connecticut, once veered close to stardom when a young Madonna opened for them at Max’s Kansas City in 1981, right before that incubator of downtown Manhattan cool closed.

That same year, the band released a single, “Party Boy.” “Psychedelic rockabilly” is how the critic Robert Palmer of The New York Times described it.

After the release the band switched out their drummer for Sal King — born Salvatore Michael Capozucca — a handsome, powerful player with a sparkly 1960s-era Ludwig drum kit and a florid, swing-inspired style. Like his new bandmates, Tom Milmore, the lead guitarist, and Bill Dickson, the bass player, Sal had been playing since he was a child. In his case, since age 3, when an uncle gave him a drum set.

Fame may have eluded the band, yet as the decades wore on and their hair turned gray, the Rousers continued playing. They rehearsed every week and performed year round, though some years less than others as family responsibilities and day jobs demanded more of their time.

Mr. Capozucca — or Mr. Cappi, as he called himself at work — became a successful real estate broker, with a specialty in Brooklyn brownstones. He married his longtime girlfriend, Veronica Griffith, in 1983. She had spotted him across the dance floor at Club 82, a storied drag bar on East 4th Street, 11 years earlier. On that night, Mr. Capozucca — always a flashy dresser (David Bowie was his hero) — was peacocking in blue satin pants and a white satin scarf.

Mr. Capozucca died on May 13 at N.Y.U. Langone Health hospital in Manhattan where he had spent the last two months being treated for Covid-19, his wife said. He was 65.

Mr. Capozucca was born on April 28, 1955, in Brooklyn. His father, Tony Capozucca, was a salesman, his mother, Betty Jean (Gibbons) Capozucca, a legal secretary.

As a teenager, Sal played at proms, weddings and street festivals. He loved Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa, and made sure to work a drum solo into his performances. In addition to his wife, Mr. Capozucca is survived by his daughter, Victoria; his brother, John, and sister, Vera.

“Things happen for a reason,” Mr. Capozucca told The New York Times in 2017, in a story about a new New York City club scene for aging rockers and their arthritic fans (early sets!). “It wasn’t meant to be. That life, that rock ’n’ roll life, is a life of heavy partying. So being famous might have led to my early demise.”

In late February, the Rousers played a gig at Bowery Electric, with a set that featured songs like “Old Man Band,” a sendup of the Rousers’ demographic (sample lyric: “older and slower than we were before/you should listen as we rock some more”). They played so well, said Mr. Milmore, they surprised themselves. “Sal called me the next day and said, ‘What the hell happened to us? How come we were that good?’”

Less than a month later, Mr. Capozucca was hospitalized.

“The band was always a celebration of our friendship and our long time together,” said Mr. Milmore. “We were just brothers, and it was always about that before anything else. Of course, Sal was always mad we weren’t famous.”

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Unemployment assistance begins for Nevada’s independent contractors, gig workers | Carson City Nevada News

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CARSON CITY — Independent contractors and gig workers eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program can now begin filing weekly claims online, the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation announced Saturday.

The system began accepting PUA claims on Saturday, May 16, 2020 at www.employnv.gov. The first payments are expected to be made beginning Wednesday, May 27, 2020, according to a DETR news release.

Independent of the traditional Unemployment Insurance system, the PUA filing system is designed to provide streamlined filing for Nevada’s self-employed, 1099 contract workers, and gig workers, to connect with PUA benefits.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claimants can contact the call center for all PUA related questions at (800) 603-9681 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and Saturday between 8 a.m. and noon.

PUA claimants must also be able and available for work as defined in state law, must have prior earnings in Nevada or a job offer to work in Nevada and must not be eligible for any UI benefits, including regular UI, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, and State Extended Benefits.

“We have been working tirelessly to provide this essential functionality of the PUA filing process. We know there is a great deal of interest and demand for weekly filing and expect our call center and claims portal to be very busy today,” said DETR director, Heather Korbulic. “Staff will continue to work including the upcoming holiday to ensure this functionality is available for Nevadans.”

Claimants can view the newly-updated PUA Claimant Guide for information on the weekly filing process and access other helpful resources on the agency’s website at detr.nv.gov/pua.



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