Makeup Artist Starts Petition To Boost Unemployment Benefits For Below-The-Line Workers During Strike

More than 10,000 people are hoping their signatures on a petition will eventually result in higher unemployment benefits for out-of-work crew members and vendors who have been impacted by the strike.

The petition was started by Farah Bunch, a makeup artist who wrote a column for Deadline in May about the strike’s impact on below-the-line workers. She was working on the reboot of Frasier for Paramount+ when the WGA hit the picket line.

“Crew members and vendors in the entertainment industry have been forced out of work for over two months with no end in sight,” Bunch says on the petition. “With SAG now on strike we are facing financial ruin with no opportunity to work. EDD benefits max amounts of $450 a week are not even close to paying something a person can live off of, when an average one bedroom apartment rents for $2,800 a month. We need our benefits increased during this crisis like they were in Covid. It’s time for government intervention.”

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In six days, Bunch generated 10,690 signatures in the hopes that Gov. Gavin Newsom and L.A. Mayor Karen Bass will take notice. Some of the comments on the petition include “I’m signing because I’m affected by this strike and the $450/week (max payout) does not even cover my rent” and “the weekly amount does not cover basic costs in California.”

For comparison, here’s what other states pay out in unemployment.

In her May column for Deadline, Bunch wrote “as a department head makeup artist, I have been inundated with phone calls from other artists in my union asking for work. We all are scrambling. With streaming, we only get 8 to 10 episodes per show, too. So I’m terrified, facing the prospect of months of no employment. Crew members don’t get residuals or royalties to help carry us through this time. So when are we allowed to ask (without seeming unsupportive), What about us?”

Today marked Day 6 of the SAG-AFTRA strike and Day 79 of the WGA strike.

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