John Lukrofka started working with the Portland Trail Blazers television crew during the 1999 NBA playoffs and has traveled on the road with the team for the past 15 seasons. Lukrofka, an EVS Broadcast Equipment operator, is responsible for slow-motion replays and highlights the packages that fans are used to seeing during each broadcast.
But Lukrofka isn’t a full-time Blazer employee or a part-time Rose Quarter worker. He is a freelancer who works in a number of sporting events and is paid a fixed fee per game. So when the sports world came to an abrupt halt earlier this month during the coronavirus crisis, he immediately became worried.
It had been scheduled to work in all 16 of the remaining Blazer games, as well as in numerous Portland Timbers games, boxing games, Olympic track and field events and the Tokyo Olympics. Suddenly, his schedule was empty, but his mortgage and car payments, as well as his son’s college tuition, were still due.
Last week, he learned that he would get some financial relief when Blazers and owner Jody Allen announced that they would commit more than $ 1.4 million to support COVID-19’s relief efforts and help employees of the game evening affected by the postponement of the NBA.
“This will help cover everything,” said Lukrofka. “We have a mortgage, two car payments and a kid in college. I think this will save us. I don’t think I could have spent two and a half months without anything coming. “
Shortly after the NBA suspended its season on March 11 due to the coronavirus crisis, players and teams began announcing plans to support employees of the arena, which they realized were among the hardest hit during the ‘arrest. Kevin Love, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Blake Griffin, Zion Williamson and Rudy Gobert have all pledged to donate money to help pay arena workers’ salaries, while teams across the league have come up with plans to provide financial assistance to their employees. part time.
But while those plans were for workers in the part-time arena – from the ushers to the staff at the box office, from the security guards to the janitors – many of them didn’t include freelance TV crews who also work around the games. Lukrofka said he has friends who work in television crews in other NBA markets who don’t get any relief from their local teams during the league break.
Lukrofka e Tony Smith, who also works as an EVS Broadcast Equipment operator at the Blazers games, both expressed their gratitude to the Blazers via social media last week after learning that the team was including them in its financial aid plan.
A Blazer spokesman said the team will retain internal employee issues and would not be able to provide further details of the financial aid plan.
“I had 90 days of earnings just gone,” said Smith, who is also getting compensation from TNT and ESPN for postponed sporting events that were supposed to work. “I probably earn 40 percent of my wages in these months of March, April, May, starting from March Madness and ending with the NBA playoffs. It was surprising that the Trail Blazers came out on their own and said that we will take care of everyone in the broadcast. … I feel like the Blazers have done a phenomenal job of setting the highest level and hopefully other networks and teams continue to show generosity in a time of need for so many people who have been hit so hard. “
Other part-time employees of the Rose Quarter said that the Blazers’ plan would provide them with the necessary relief in the coming weeks.
Jamie Faue relies on her work as a guest services assistant at the Fashion Center and Providence Park as the sole source of income. She said that the money she is getting from the Blazers will allow her to pay her bills until at least mid-May. This week she was informed in an email that Portland Timbers would also send part-time checks to employees to help them during this period, but the club did not say how much each employee would pay.
“I am relieved and grateful that I will be compensated for at least another month instead of the missed compensation I had feared,” said Faue.
But Faue and many other part-time Rose Quarter employees who spoke with The Oregonian / OregonLive said they would still lose wages because the Blazers’ plan compensated them only for the remaining nine home games, not other events that were expected. take place at the Fashion Center. La Faue said she was expected to work between 11.30pm and 30th at other scheduled Moda Center events, including concerts, Winterhawks matches and the Portland NCAA regional women’s basketball tournament.
A Blazer spokesman said the details were still being worked out regarding the potential salary for concerts and other events. The organization is still getting more information about which events will be canceled and which will be rescheduled.
“I feel like I don’t really have to panic until May right now,” said Faue. “It seemed to me that the Blazers could have done more, just because we had other lost hours, but I’m grateful. I think it’s nice that they are helping us instead of leaving us in suspense. “
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