Pride In The Park bartenders went over 2 months without paychecks from LGBTQ music festival organizers

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DOWNTOWN — Dozens of bartenders who worked Pride in the Park, a music festival held in June to celebrate LGBTQ pride, are still waiting for their salaries.

The two-day outdoor music festival, which debuted in 2019, took place June 25 and 26 at Grant Park with sets from Alesso, Saucy Santana, the Chainsmokers and various drag performers. It was organized by Dreambrite Presents and Special Events Management, securing sponsorships from various companies including Truly Hard Seltzer.

But the workers who organized the event said they had not been paid in full and communication about when they could expect to receive their money had been scarce. Tips were distributed in August, but several people did not receive their $10 hourly wage, workers said.

Block Club reviewed text messages from workers indicating that many bartenders had not been paid for the event. Other text messages showed employees asking event organizers for their paychecks and arrival times.

“You don’t know everyone’s situation and what that $10 an hour means to someone, especially when so many people are living paycheck to paycheck,” said Adam Marrero, a bartender. who worked for the festival and who was not paid for his hours worked. “When people take time off their weekend to work on an event, they deserve to be paid.”

Pride in the Park employed 94 bartenders as independent contractors, said Chez Ordoñez, a spokesperson for the festival. Of these bartenders, 26 were already receiving their full hourly wages and tips due to a clerical error. All performers and support services staff have also been paid, he said.

That left 68 bartenders who still need to be paid, including eight team members who haven’t completed their necessary tax forms, Ordoñez said. All remaining paychecks were sent late Friday, he said.

“[People] usually don’t get paid for music festivals until 30-60 days after the event, so now is where it’s happening,” Ordoñez said.

In an email sent to bartenders on Friday, event organizer Keegan Moon said the delay was due to Dreambrite waiting for sponsorship and ticketing payments to the organization, which “usually aren’t provided only 30 to 60 days after the event”.

The email came after workers began posting messages on social media calling out the company for not paying its workers.

“Everyone gets paid,” Moon said.

It also contradicted an earlier email Moon sent to staffers on August 11 which claimed that “the festival generated much lower revenue and incurred quite a large debt.”

“As a result, it looks like 2022 has been the festival’s last year for quite some time,” Moon wrote in the previous email. “As a result, Dreambrite, the production company that airs Pride in the Park, does not have the funds to pay us the hourly portion at this time.”

Moon told workers that Dusty Carpenter, president of Dreambrite Productions and the event’s main organizer, would personally cover the festival’s debt and pay its workers, but that would “take longer”.

Ordoñez said the message was a “poorly worded email” falsely stating that Pride in the Park’s ticket sales were low and its future was uncertain. Ordoñez did not know how many tickets the festival had sold.

“Pride in the Park isn’t doing this for profit — it’s a Pride event — so they’re fine,” Ordoñez said. “Ticket sales have gone well and have gone according to plan, and for now it continues to be an annual event.”

Ordoñez said he didn’t know if the checks sent Friday were personally funded by Carpenter, as previously suggested, or by festival revenue.

Workers said they were relieved to hear their payments were on their way, but they criticized Dreambrite’s level of communication since the festival ended.

“One of the most frustrating things is that there was no communication from Keegan or Dusty about what was going on until the August 11 email,” said Sara Paiz, who said that she owed money for working 22-24 hours at the festival. “I earned this money. I broke my ass and my body ached for a few days after the festival. This money is owed to us. »

Paiz asked why it took 65 days to send payments to workers, as she has worked at other festivals that paid workers much sooner. She said she also worked at Lollapalooza from July 28 to July 31 and “got paid immediately.”

“They said on August 4 you will receive your first paycheck for tips, and on August 10 you will receive your second for your hourly wage. How come I’ve already received my two checks from Lollapalooza and I’m still waiting for Pride? Paiz said.

Cesar Estrada, another bartender, worked 20 hours and waited for his salary, he said.

“If you work and do your job, which we all did, you should get paid on time,” Estrada said. “Some people agree to work for free, but not me. If I do my job, I expect all my salary. We are entering the third month and it is disappointing and unprofessional the lack of communication we have had.

Ordoñez said Dreambrite hadn’t received formal paycheck complaints until Block Club spoke to former employees because staff members weren’t using the proper channels to report issues.

“If a contracted bartender sees a discrepancy in their payment, each has been given the process to request a review for our staff,” Ordoñez said. “It had to be done by email, not by text or messaging on social media accounts or other means of seemingly notifying festival staff.”

Dreambrite will provide contract workers with a breakdown of their hours, tips and compensation for transparency, Ordoñez said.

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