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Musicians Demand Unemployment Benefits in Letter to Congress

Musicians United For Unemployment Benefits calls on Congress to give federal relief to musicians during the cancellations of the gig economy during COVID-19

March 25, 2020
Written by
Cynthia Schemmer

Downtown Boys and members of the No Music For ICE campaign have co-launched Musicians United For Unemployment Benefits, a petition demanding federal relief for independent musicians.

The spread of COVID-19 has resulted in the cancellations of all tours and live events, and gig economy workers are suffering greatly. Musicians, touring workers, DJs ,and other workers are currently ineligible for unemployment, paid sick leave, or other benefits in the US—however, despite paying income tax to the state and federal government, musicians are categorized as self-employed and are unable to receive the same benefits as those with single-employer work.

The petition demands that “workers should be able to use any income—including 1099 earnings and demonstrable anticipated future income wiped out by COVID-19—to apply for unemployment and other benefits.”

 “A large segment of the US economy has recently shifted to gig economy work. This includes rideshare drivers, journalists, teachers, delivery drivers, tech workers, and more. Yet our current unemployment system is structured to prevent these workers from receiving any benefits. We should have long ago updated our system to serve our changing economy, but the current crisis makes it absolutely essential that we do so right now.”

Musicians United For Unemployment Benefits

As of this morning, the petition has over 400 signatures—including Speedy Ortiz/SAD13, Vagabon, Mirah, and Hurray For The Riff Raff—and will be  sent to the US House, Senate, and all US state governments.

Sign Musicians United For Unemployment Benefits and let the government know that the gig economy needs relief now!

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