LAS VEGAS (FOX5) — Tony Gianpetro is one of nearly 200,000 Nevadans losing unemployment benefits tomorrow.
Congress couldn’t reach a deal with a COVID-19 relief bill, and with no signature from the President, the Nevada Division of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation is cutting off several benefit programs that expire on Dec. 26.
Gianpetro has worked for MGM as a bartender for the last 17 years, he said. When the strip shut down in March, he went on unemployment in April. He said he never had problems with receiving unemployment.
“I was under the regular unemployment insurance state benefits, because I went back to work, those exhausted in October and then I had the PEUC which is the pandemic relief extension,” Gianpetro said.
In October he got the call to return to work, but with reduced hours.
“I had been getting like one day, two days, a week and then I wouldn’t get called for like three weeks,” Gianpetro said. With inconsistent hours it’s not enough to support rent or pay bills.
At the mercy of a call system, he’s tried looking for other work.
“I was like hey maybe I’ll do Doordash or Ubereats, stuff like that but the demand is so high people need jobs I’m actually on a waitlist on like three delivery services,” Gianpetro said.
Gianpetro addressed social media comments that accuse him and others that are on unemployment of ‘riding it out.’
“A lot of complaints especially on social media like ‘well you guys are just riding your unemployment.’ That’s not the case. We have jobs, our hours have been reduced and we just want what’s right,” Gianpetro said.
He said there’s no one person to blame.
“I just believe there’s failures all around you know I’m not going to say or point the finger at this guy or this politician, I think everybody’s to blame. You know I think we are to blame as well because I think we could’ve whipped this pandemic a long time ago if people would’ve social distanced, would’ve worn their masks,” Gianpetro said.
One question he’s hoping to get answered from DETR is about the State Extended Benefits (SEB) program.
“DETR is not cutting off the SEB, so my question is would I be able to apply for the SEB since my PEUC is being cutoff?”
According to a Dec. 24 press release from DETR, if the bill is not signed, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and the State Extended Benefits (SEB) 7-week extension will end on Dec. 26. The Unemployment Insurance (UI) program which consists of 26 weeks plus an SEB extension of 13 weeks, will continue.
Gianpetro is a father of three. He said he gave his kids the best Christmas he could give even though uncertainty is looming above his head.
“My children are my life and you know I’m going to give them you know everything I can. And until our regular employment picks up so we can be back five days of work again … you know and support our families you know that’s all we want,” Gianpetro said.
A mother of three that worked as chef for MGM on the strip is dependent on weekly benefits. She applied for unemployment in May.
Rosemary Wade said she’s been able to get by but not my much.
“I get 469 a week and now what I’m living off of is not even a paycheck that I used to make. People say people on unemployment are lazy- no one asked to be in this predicament. We didn’t get fired- I was literally in the midst of getting a promotion,” Wade said.
She’s said she’s applied to other jobs but has had no luck.
“I’ve been told I’m overqualified for a line cook position, or I’ve been told, they want to pay us $9 an hour. I can’t even pay my rent with that and then alone take care of my children off of $9 an hour, there might be some people that can do it but I can’t even pay my rent- and my rent went up in the midst of a pandemic,” Wade said.
Wade said she’s been able to save some money now that extracurricular activities are gone.
“I didn’t have to worry about paying for gymnastics and comp fees and meet fees and all that other stuff or costumes and all that so it’s just like there are certain things that were taken out of your life because of the pandemic to get you know so I was like all this stuff that’s coming up I’m going to go ahead and pay things down,” Wade said.