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Labor Department not making things easy for gig workers

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The Labor Department is already being criticized for how it is enforcing unemployment assistance. An Alabama subcommittee is evaluating when to re-open the state’s economy. And the stock markets were closed.

It’s a lot to keep up with. Here’s Alabama’s latest economic news — good and bad. And a few things to know about how swiftly-changing national policies could affect you.

National:

New Labor Department guidelines could make it harder for gig workers like Uber drivers to benefit from unemployment assistance.

The department, led by Eugene Scalia, gig workers can claim unemployment benefits only if they are “forced to suspend operations” which would hurt drivers and other gig economy employees if the apps they work for are technically still active. It also states workers may be able to return to work within two weeks of quarantining.

“The Labor Department chose the narrowest possible definition of who qualifies for pandemic unemployment assistance,” Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, told The Washington Post.

That approach seemingly defeats some of the purpose of the economic stimulus package to help unemployed Americans survive a growing economic crisis. Writing for New York, Eric Levitz said, “Trump’s Labor Department has been working diligently to ensure that no U.S. worker has it too easy in the middle of a pandemic and burgeoning economic depression.”

State:

As part of a $30 billion initial offering to help the healthcare system, Alabama hospitals will get nearly a half-billion dollars to help them deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

As AL.com’s John Sharp reports, the $449.5 million is meant to “reimburse providers for COVID-19 care for uninsured Americans” as well as reimbursement for Medicare services. As hospitals around the country become overwhelmed with sick patients, this influx of money should make things for all involved.

Elsewhere, Alabama Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth announced that a subcommittee on reopening the state’s economy has been created and is expected to report findings to Governor Ivey on April 17.

Alabama, like many other states around the country, has been pummeled with rising unemployment claims as the coronavirus shut down businesses across the state. The purpose of the subcommittee, according to Ainsworth, is to provide a road map for how Alabama can start to work its way out of its recent economic crisis while not endangering the health of its citizens given the ongoing health concerns.

“Reopening Alabama’s economy and getting businesses back to work will not be like flipping a light switch,” Ainsworth said, “but it will more likely be accomplished in stages once the COVID-19 pandemic begins to ease,”

Market update:

The markets were closed for Good Friday

In case you missed it:

What we’re watching

What happens when a community rallies around your beloved yet struggling business? AL.com’s Michael Casagrande will have an update with the owner of Rama Jama’s in Tuscaloosa after writing on March 25th how the restaurant was doing only a third of its usual business.

Resources

Coronavirus in Alabama: How many infected; where to get tested; key information you need

Coronavirus in Alabama: How to help, how to get help

What happens if you lose your job due to coronavirus?

What to do if you can’t pay your bills

How much will I get from the coronavirus stimulus?

How do you apply for small business funds from the stimulus package?

COVID-19 COVERAGE RESOURCES: Follow our live updates. Find all of our coronavirus stories. A continuously updated vital information post. A free text-messaging service so you can receive the most urgent coronavirus updates on your cellphone. And ask questions. To sign up, subscribe to Alabama Coronavirus Urgent Alerts. A new weekday newsletter is available. You can subscribe here. Also, download our mobile app where you can receive on-the-go notifications.

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Drive through gig returning to Southampton after successful launch

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ONE of the country’s first drive-in concerts was a huge success and another sold-out gig is taking place later this week.

For the first time since lockdown, live music returned to Southampton on Friday June 19, as hundreds of people rocked up to a live, socially distanced gig from the comfort of their cars at the Royal Victoria Country Park.

Around 80 cars filled with music fanatics watched as Sean McGowan headlined the unique event, supported by “Bash” and “Me and the Moon”.

Peter Nicholson, founder of Sound Level – the Southampton-based company who launched the event – was delighted with how well the event went, and is looking for the next gig on Friday July 3.

He said: “The gig went superbly, everything went 100% according to plan and we didn’t get one single bit of negative feedback. It was amazing, it felt like such an intimate event.

“It was so heart warming seeing everyone have fun because it was such hard work to organise and set everything up. The social distancing rules worked really well with everyone either standing to the left of their car, or sitting on top of them, and everyone who attended was very respectful of the venue, there wasn’t a single piece of litter left on site.”

The upcoming gig on Friday July 3 will see another 110 cars full of music lovers rock up to the same venue to watch south coast Indie band Wild Front perform, with supporting artists Mauvey and Grace Savage.

While this event is sold out, it has been confirmed that yet another drive-in concert will be taking place later this month on Friday July 17, with the line-up set to be announced shortly.

Tickets cost £40 per car, with a maximum of five people per car, and all social distancing measures must be followed.



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Knoxville gig worker wins unemployment after weeks of waiting

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — For months, a gig worker, or independent contractor, has waited for her pandemic unemployment check through the federal government.

To apply for it, she had to go through the Tennessee labor department’s unemployment website, but the check never came.

Since she qualified for compensation, she called WATE 6 On Your Side’s Don Dare asking for help.

Nancy Snowden, a widow, has been out of work since mid-March. She’s an independent contractor. A gig worker who demonstrates food and drinks at places like Kroger and Walmart.

Under the federal disaster unemployment assistance program for COVID-19, she is eligible for benefits. Months ago, she went to the Tennessee Department of Labor’s website to register.

Gig workers are not eligible for Tennessee unemployment compensation, but they are eligible for federal pandemic compensation.

“They stated that gig workers were going to qualify for this. I’m a gig worker. Therefore, go ahead and send your application in. That is what I did. It took me 20 hours to navigate their system with my Smartphone,” Snowden said.

Snowden registered in April, but heard nothing. She contacted the state again in May. Same frustrating result.

“I couldn’t reach anybody, I couldn’t call anybody.  I sent emails, there was no answer. I got on their website to their chat room for them to talk to me about my problem,” Snowden said. “It listed that I was the 1,060th-some person. I thought ‘I’m not sitting here for that.’ “

The state has added hundreds of workers in Nashville to handle thousands of people filing for unemployment compensation. Being on hold for a long time is not unusual.

“I thought I did everything right,” Snowden said.

When Snowden contacted us yesterday. We sent an email to the state explaining her situation. Within two hours, there was a response.

“Oh, they said they had approved my application. I was really sweating this. I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Snowden said.

Soon, her unemployment check from the federal government will be on its way — within a few days.

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Ringo Starr to reunite with Paul McCartney for 80th birthday gig

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Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney are joining forces to celebrate Ringo’s birthday (Picture: Rex)

Sir Ringo Starr will be reuniting with Sir Paul McCartney to celebrate his 80th birthday and now all we can hear are the screams of Beatles fans.

The legendary musician will join forces with his former bandmate for his annual ‘Peace and Love’ livestream charity concert on 7 July.

Ringo – who has held similar gigs on the same date for the past 12 years – is bringing together the likes of Sheryl Crow, Joe Walsh, Ben Harper, Gary Clark Jr. and more.

‘Ringo’s Big Birthday Show’ – which will raise money for Black Lives Matter Global Network, MusiCares, The David Lynch Foundation and WaterAid – will air on 7 July on his YouTube channel.

There’s going to be at-home performances, previously unseen footage and all the nostalgia a Beatles enthusiast can muster.

The change to this year’s event comes amid the coronavirus pandemic, with concerts cancelled across the world due to social distancing measures.

Discussing his upcoming bash in a video on Instagram, the iconic musician said: ‘We’re doing something for my birthday, but it’s a little different than usual.’

Explaining how it’s going to work this year, he added: ‘Anyway I’m having fun and I hope you are.’

Ringo signed off: ‘Peace and love. That’s all I ask. Wherever you are – on a bus, down the mine, in a spaceship, in a rocket.’

Last year, the drummer was joined by the likes of David Lynch, Peter Jackson, Nils Lofgren, Sheila E., Benmont Tench and Ed Begley, Jr. as he celebrated his 79th birthday in style.

The same year, he reunited with Paul McCartney for a special rendition of John Lennon’s track, Grow Old With Me.

Ringo and Paul reunited last year too to cover a John Lennon song (Picture: Bettmann Archive)

The song was included on the former’s 20th studio album What’s My Name and also featured a musical line from Here Comes The Sun, which was penned by Fab Four bandmate George Harrison for the group.

Ringo said at the time: ‘I sang it the best that I could. I do well up when I think of John this deeply. And I’ve done my best. We’ve done our best.

‘The other good thing is that I really wanted Paul to play on it, and he said yes. Paul came over and he played bass and sings a little bit on this with me. So John’s on it in a way. I’m on it and Paul’s on it.’

He went on: ‘It’s not a publicity stunt. This is just what I wanted. And the strings that Jack arranged for this track, if you really listen, they do one line from Here Comes The Sun.

‘So in a way, it’s the four of us.’

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MORE: Jennifer Garner shares heartfelt advice on how to heal after fan opens up about ‘heavy’ breakup

MORE: Elton John set to relive iconic classic concerts as he launches YouTube series



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