Industries across the United States are still reeling from the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and workers in the thriving Chicagoland entertainment industry are calling on Congress to provide a helping hand to an industry that employs hundreds of thousands of workers.
A nationwide gathering known as “Red Alert” was held Tuesday night in suburban Rosemont, with the Allstate Arena bathed in red light to help draw attention to efforts to lobby Congress in support of the RESTART Act.
The bill offers relief to those in the entertainment industry, which has been largely halted since March when the pandemic roared to life in the United States.
The industry employs more than 10 million people across the United States, including thousands in Illinois, but that all changed with the pandemic.
“It across the board has completely stopped,” Charlie Nicosia, owner of Absolute Production, said. “We lost 90% of our business and had to lay off almost everyone.”
Nicosia’s company helps movie studios with union contracting, power distribution and production, and he says that his business is in his blood, as his father was also involved in the entertainment business.
“My father did this for 50 years,” he said. “I’ve done it for 36, and I have three sons.”
In addition to the RESTART Act, which would help provide financial aid to entertainment companies, the “Red Alert” events were designed to push Congress to reinstate extended unemployment benefits, which expired earlier this year.
Without that help, those who work in the industry are looking at piles of unpaid bills, and with no end to the pandemic in sight, things are getting more desperate for those currently out of work.
“It’s daily conversations about what is going to happen and what to do about our families,” Nicosia said. “We need to have some legislation to help with unemployment assistance, health insurance, and more.”
The “Red Alert” events took place across the United States, with hundreds of buildings lit up in red in more than 50 cities, according to the event’s Facebook page.