Email to Membership: Friday, March 27, 2020

During the COVID-19 outbreak, we are posting every all-member email regarding the crisis to the site to ensure all 802 members see these communications. Please note, to avoid redundancy, we stripped the parts of these emails that remind members to check this very page for updates.

Email sent Friday, March 27, 2020, 5:17 PM

Subject Line- Stimulus Passes the House, Includes Freelance Unemployment


Local 802 Legislative Update

Friday, March 27, 2020

Thank you to everyone who called, emailed, and tweeted at their elected representatives! Our power as an entertainment workforce has made a real difference in ensuring that freelance and gig workers are not left behind during the coronavirus pandemic. Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a stimulus package that will extend unemployment benefits to workers who earn income through contract work and freelance jobs. This relief package has already passed the U.S. Senate and is now headed to the president’s desk for a signature.

The AFM has posted the full text of the bill here for your review and provided the below summary of provisions that are relevant to musicians:

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

  • Temporary 39-week program to provide payment to freelancers, gig workers, and others not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits who are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19 emergency.
  • The minimum benefit equals one-half of your state’s average weekly unemployment benefit plus $600.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)

  • Additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance for employee-classified workers who have exhausted or will exhaust state unemployment benefits.
  • Provides an additional $600 per week for anyone receiving regular state unemployment insurance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

2020 Recovery Rebates

  • This is a one-time cash benefit to households of $1,200 per adult ($2,400 per couple) and $500 per child.
  • People earning $75,000 ($150,000 jointly) or less will receive the full amount. This phases-out for people earning more than $99,000 ($198,000 jointly) with no children.

Arts Funding

  • $150 million to state agencies to provide grants and support to arts organizations.
  • $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts and $75 million for the National Endowment of the Humanities.
  • $75 million for the the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) which supports PBS and NPR.

We will share more information on accessing these unemployment benefits as it becomes available.

Take Action Now for a 90-Day NYS Rent Freeze

While this is amazing news on a federal level, the fight continues on a local level to ensure musicians and other workers are supported during the pandemic. As April 1 quickly approaches, many of us are worried about making rent payments while out of work. We are supporting Senate bill S8125 to cancel rent for residential and commercial tenants in New York for 90 days, introduced by Michael Gianaris, the Deputy Majority Leader of the New York State Senate.

  • Sign and share this petition.
  • Endorse the bill on its official New York State Senate homepage.
    • Look for “DO YOU SUPPORT THIS BILL?”
    • Click “AYE” and fill out the required fields
    • In the field that reads “include a custom message for your Senator?”, add a note asking that the bill suspend rent for ALL individuals and organizations paying rent in New York.
  • Contact the Governor and your State Senator!
    • Use this form to contact Governor Andrew Cuomo.
    • Identify your State Senator at Type in your address and click on the “State” tab. Use the email listed under your NYS STATE SENATE member.
    • Send your emails using the below script!

Email Subject: I Support Bill S8125

My name is [name] and I live in your district. I am calling on you to support Senate bill S8125 that Michael Gianaris proposed to cancel rent for both residential and commercial tenants for 90 days.

*Important Note: a moratorium on evictions in New York State is in effect as of 5 PM on Monday, March 16. Our friends at the Right to Counsel Coalition have published a handy FAQ on what the eviction moratorium means for renters.

Keep the Pressure On: Renew the COBRA Subsidy Program

Finally, as we wrote you about earlier in the week, entertainment workers in New York are keeping the pressure on our NYS elected officials to renew the COBRA subsidy healthcare program. This program, which pays 50% of monthly COBRA premiums for entertainment union members for 12 months, has kept over 1,150 entertainment workers on their healthcare over the past decade. We must ensure it does not expire at this critical time, when many musicians will otherwise fall short of qualifying for healthcare coverage due to cancelled work during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Call and write our elected officials and let them know to renew the COBRA subsidy healthcare program.


Dear [Elected Official],

My name is ___. I am a Local 802 AFM union musician writing to request that New York state renew its COBRA subsidy healthcare program. For union members like me, who have lost all our work due to the coronavirus, this program is critical to keeping me on my health plan.

With theaters, film and TV productions, recording studios, and music venues shuttered, our entire industry is in crisis. Musicians and our entertainment worker colleagues have been sent home without knowing when our workplaces will reopen.

Thank you for reading my message; I ask that you work with Local 802 AFM to renew this critical program.

In solidarity,



My name is [name] and I am a Local 802 AFM union musician calling to ask [elected official] to renew the COBRA subsidy healthcare program. Due to the coronavirus, musicians and other entertainment workers are out of work and have no idea when our workplaces will reopen. Without this critical health subsidy, many of us will lose our union healthcare. Please ensure that this valuable COBRA subsidy does not expire. Thank you!