Gig Workers Struggle During COVID-19

Posted at 11:31 AM, Jul 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-04 11:31:00-04

LANSING, Mich. — Some of the people struggling right now are the estimated 96-million people in the U.S. who are gig workers. Alexa Liacko found out how they're navigating the new job market.

Hollywood makeup artist Robert Maverick is used to creating nightmarish characters. “That’s on Agents of Shield” but surviving the shutdown has become a horror all too real.

"It's been the most depressing and stressful time of my life." You see, Maverick is an independent contractor – moving from job to job—whenever he is needed. "We’re mostly middle class, and we don’t walk the red carpet, but we make the people who do look good. Like everyone from Uber drivers, to stylists to set designers."

When the work he loved dried up, he filed for unemployment, but because of a banking clerical error "I received one COVID payment with the regular benefits plus the extra COVID payment of $600. That was 10 weeks ago and he is still waiting for his benefits to arrive.

"COVID 19 is not as big of a fear to me as sliding into poverty this far in my career where I’m just years away from retirement."

Maverick says stress and anxiety piled up with his bills. "It’s sad you have to be at this point, 30 years into your career, worried about just having food in the pantry." "So I was eating every third day I would take vegetables because they’re cheap and juice them and put them in the refrigerator and drink them over the course of 3 days."

In the midst of his physical struggle Maverick was hit with heartbreak. His brother, an army veteran, passed away. "I'm a fixer, I've always been a fixer, that’s why i do my job as a makeup artist, I can make someone beautiful or scary, but I can’t fix this. I can’t fix dead."

And he can’t turn Hollywood on overnight for the thousands of people waiting in the wings as filmmakers and law makers re-script the choreography on set so the show can safely go on. "Hollywood is not that far away from your front door, you just turn on your tv—we’re always there to entertain you, and we hope that you’re there for us as we struggle through this."

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