How to help workers who are going without pay during coronavirus crisis

Many are worried about how to secure an income and how to quickly
Virus Outbreak Unemployment
Posted at 12:03 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 16:34:40-04

Many are adjusting to the reality of working from home, but for many Americans, working from home is not possible.

Even though the Trump administration and Congress are promising federal aid - many people are worried about how to secure an income and how to quickly.

CBS News listed some of the workers in industries going without pay right now and some of the community-based measures that are being used to support them.

Restaurant workers and bartenders

According to the outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas, an estimated 4 million U.S. restaurant workers are at risk of being laid off in the coming weeks as a growing number of states and cities mandate that food establishments shut down or shift to takeout-only to help stem the spread of COVID-19. Others may face long periods with severely less hours.

In response, the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation has set up an emergency relief fund for those facing economic hardships and health crises. One Fair Wage has a support fund for tipped and service workers, as well. And in Washington, D.C., there is now a "virtual tip jar" where people eating and drinking at home are being encouraged to think of their favorite local bartenders and servers, and drop them a virtual tip via Venmo or PayPal.

Fitness Instructors

With communities across the United States closing all gyms and fitness studios, instructors and personal trainers that mke money by coaching in gyms, do not know when their next paycheck will come. CBS News say that some are adapting by scheduling sessions with individual clients outdoors. Some yoga studios are switching to online video tutorials. However, fitness instructors don't always have specialized equipment at-home.


A number of guilds and relief funds are helping support those who are struggling: American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) Relief Fund, Boston Artist Relief Fund, Equal Sound Corona Relief Fund, MusiCares and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grants, are just a few.

CERF+ is providing emergency relief grants for artists who have tested positive for coronavirus and require severe medical care. Rauschenberg Emergency Grants plan to provide grants of up to $5,000 for American choreographers, visual and media artists who need help paying for unexpected medical emergencies.

Movie theater workers

A Cinema Worker Solidarity Fund has been set up for furloughed movie theater employees in New York City experiencing wage disruption as a result of all cinemas being shuttered on Monday. For every $3,000 donated, the GoFundMe page reads, they will "be able to support five people with the equivalent of 40 hours a week at $15/hour."

Arena workers

With concerts and professional sporting events in the NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS suspended for months, all of the hourly workers who make a living by doing jobs in the stadiums and arenas are now going without pay.

Last week, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made a commitment to pay all arena workers inside American Airlines Center during the suspension. CBS Sports reports other team owners and organizations have also announced commitments to support their staff.

Babysitters, housekeepers, hair stylists and others

Many babysitters, housekeepers, tour guides, hair stylists and manicurists work on a freelance basis. When the community goes into lockdown, their client bases dry up, leaving their well of income dry.

On Monday, CBS News reported that there were so many people applying for unemployment benefits in New York that the influx of requests crashed the Department of Labor's website several times throughout the day. The DOL hotline was reportedly also jammed. So it is perhaps more important than ever that Americans think of their neighbors who may be struggling and get creative about ways to help.

During times of tragedies and public health emergencies, fundraising scams will undoubtedly pop up alongside the legitimate ones. Take your time to double check fund-raising sources or any source that is asking for your money in times of crisis for that matter!

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