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Congress Must Fix Unemployment Programs

Unions & Industry Tell Lawmakers that Programs Fall Short in Aiding Entertainment Workers

AFM joined with other entertainment unions and music industry organizations in highlighting the ways that the CARES Act has fallen short in assisting musicians and other entertainment workers. In a letter, the broad collation wrote:

“Given the unique nature of our industry, many in our profession work from project to project and gig to gig, not only in multiple jobs but in various capacities. As a result, creators often find themselves working as employees receiving W-2 wages and as independent contractors (or otherwise self- employed) receiving 1099 income for performances, royalties, and other services. Unfortunately, implementation of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (PUA) has overlooked workers with mixed income.

In almost all cases that we see in every state, a minimum amount of W-2 income disqualifies a self-employed individual for PUA and significantly lowers the amount of assistance they receive. PUA must be updated to recognize these different income streams and allow individuals to show their mixed sources of revenue for a full accounting of their annual income.

In addition, those who work on location or perform on tour earn freelance income in multiple states, some of which does not come with a 1099. While some state agencies allow for this type of reporting, some do not. Congress’s intent is that such workers should be fully eligible for at least the minimum PUA amount, but state implementation does not fully reflect this intention. PUA must be updated to recognize these unique circumstances.”