A plethora of musicians including Downtown Boys, DIIV, Speedy Ortiz, Lee Ranaldo, Thursday, Zola Jesus and Guy Picciotto have sent a letter to congress demanding aid as an independent musicians union. Called The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW), the letter comes in six parts, calling for an expansion of government benefits, and emergency funding for programs in need.
The first part calls for the expansion of the CARES Act unemployment benefits, including Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, throughout the end of the year. The second calls for an extension of these benefits to all people residing in the US regardless of their immigration status.
“Many of us have been out of work since early March,” the letter reads.”Even when we receive the promised benefits, it will be too little and too late to survive the catastrophe facing our industry.”
The next few parts call for emergency funding for the NEA, NEH, and CPB, and funding of the US Post Office, which has been beleaguered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Other provisions include seeking medicare for all and “a national rent and mortgage cancellation for all for the duration of the crisis.”
Other prominent performers who signed the bill include Torres, La Dispute, Dan Boecker of Wolf Parade, Julia Holter, Alice Bag, Eve 6, Algiers, Moaning, Frankie Cosmos, A Hawk and a Hacksaw, Mary Lattimore, Thalia Zedek, No Joy, War on Women, Why?, Girlpool, New Bomb Turks, Jeff Rosenstock, Deafheaven and Charly Bliss.
Downtown Boy’s member Joey La Neve DeFrancesco wrote the statement and is one of the union’s co-organizers. The punk outfit released Cost of Living in 2017, which was produced by Guy Picciotto. Picciotto is best known as the vocalist and guitarist for Fugazi..
Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz has ventured into a solo project called Sad13, which released a Christmas song last year, while Ranaldo (best known forhis role in Sonic Youth) teamed up with Raül Refree for Names of North End Women earlier this year.
Check out the full letter, and artists who signed below:
AND ALL MEMBERS OF THE US HOUSE AND SENATE:
We the undersigned musicians appreciate your efforts to extend certain benefits to us and other self-employed people in the third COVID relief package.
However, few of us have received enough support to survive the crisis. Many states have yet to distribute PUA benefits to self-employed workers, most of us are still awaiting stimulus checks, and our overdue rent, medical debt, student debt, utility bills, food costs, medical costs, and more continue to pile up. Many of us were never even eligible for expanded benefits because of immigration status. Many of us have been out of work since early March. Even when we receive the promised benefits, it will be too little and too late to survive the catastrophe facing our industry.
As such, we add our voices to workers across the country on the following.
1. We demand an extension of CARES Act unemployment benefits, including Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, through at least the remainder of 2020. Live music will be one of the last businesses to reopen, and music workers will need support until that happens.
2. We demand the extension of benefits to all Americans in need, regardless of their immigration status.
3. We demand a national rent and mortgage cancellation for all for the duration of the crisis, in order to ensure housing security, and to save our music venues, small businesses, and non-profits.
4. We demand emergency supplemental funding to the NEA, NEH, and CPB, and that the new relief package authorize emergency regranting to individuals.
5. We demand that Medicare be expanded immediately to cover everyone in the country.
6. We demand that the US Post Office be given all necessary funding, with no rate increases and no privatization. The Post Office is a necessity for musicians and other artists who ship recorded music and other merchandise.
The above include the bare minimum needed to ensure that musicians, self-employed people, and all workers are able to survive the COVID crisis and its devastating economic aftermath with dignity. Musicians and artists perform labor that provides entertainment, comfort, and meaning, for countless Americans, particularly during quarantine. If we are to continue producing through this crisis and afterward, we must have rights, respect, and immediate economic relief.
Signed by the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) and the following artists,
Damon & Naomi
Guy Picciotto ( Fugazi, Rites of Spring)
DAP The Contract
Harry and the Potters
L.A. Takedown / Aaron M Olson
Jane Doe Ensemble
Erica Dawn Lyle (Bikini Kill/AquaShade)
Cristy Road Carrera
John ” Coconutz” Chittwood
Pretty Purgatory records
Pieter Hilton (Typhoon, Sunbathe)
DAP The Contract
Aaron J. Shay
A Hawk and A Hacksaw
Ryan H. Walsh
Amari Newman (sleepwalker)
THE PICTURES BAND
Sloane Angel Hilton
Chris Bernhardt/ BMR4
Tonks & the Aurors
Ryan Mahan | Dead Meat
Katie Alice Greer
Aaron Jonah Lewis
Bridget St. John
P Michael -ONO
Shannon Rose Riley, ONO
Michael Berdan / Uniform
connor tomaka, ONO
Telefon Tel Aviv
The Rare Forms
Spencer Compton / Proper Nouns
Da Wei Wang
The Fabulous Downey Brothers
WAR ON WOMEN
Quillan Roe for the Roe Family Singers
Tobias the Owl
connor tomaka, ONO
Tom Van Buskirk (Javelin, Actual Magic)
psychic of orange
WHY? / Yoni Wolf
Kat and the Hurricane
Max Del Viscio
Flochango and the Moneyshots
The Goodbye Party
Bren Lukens / Modern Baseball
Shell of a Shell
NEW BOMB TURKS
matt reber – new bomb turks
Ruben Tirado | Gold Steps, EDIU, Rare Bloom
Shaki Tavi // Leon Mosburg
Max Stephens (Bad Optics)
Kid Congo Powers
Tim Keen (Ought)
cold weather boy
Craig McQuiston- Tour Manager: Kurtr Vile, MGMT, The War On Drugs
Danny J. | Daniel J. W!shington
DJ Jeannie Hopper
Chris Cote, Guitar & Backline Tech
Jon Catfish DeLorme
José Rivera (Proxemia)
John Van Tongeren
The Deluxe Band
Jeff Haley- Wild Nothing
The Digital Locomotive
Daniel Cooper – Lucky Bird Media
The Other Half of the Sky
NOVA ONE / Roz Raskin
Sarah Cowell (tall child)
Kenneth M. Piekarski (Slashed Tires)
Kerry McCoy / Deafheaven
Michael Serafin-Wells (Bipolar Explorer, Tremosphere)