As The Clock Runs Out On $300 Unemployment Benefits, A New Orleans Waitress Is Left In Limbo

 1626858774 
1626947427
Dora Whitfield poses for a portrait outside of her home in New Orleans, Friday, July 2, 2021. Whitfield volunteers her time educating workers on the benefits of unions and advocates for unemployment reform.

Dora Whitfield poses for a portrait outside of her home in New Orleans, Friday, July 2, 2021. Whitfield volunteers her time educating workers on the benefits of unions and advocates for unemployment reform.

Leslie Gamboni, For The Gulf States Newsroom

When Dora Whitfield bought her house in 2014, she and her husband were so giddy they invited a caravan of family members over to see the place.

It was a hard-earned present she was able to afford because of her job as a buffet waitress at Harrah’s Casino. When Whitfield purchased the three-bedroom home in New Orleans, she broke free from 30 years of living in public housing.

These days, she is praying she does not lose it altogether.

When the pandemic struck, she was laid off and has been getting by on unemployment benefits ever since. Now, the additional federal unemployment benefits that helped her will soon disappear. Louisiana is ending the $300 weekly payments on July 31, following the lead of states like Alabama and Mississippi who cut off the checks in June in hopes of driving up job applications for businesses desperate for workers.

But for Whitfield, returning to work and her pre-pandemic life is not so simple. She is not sure her old job will be restored. If she looks for work elsewhere, she risks not making as much money as she would have earned from her hourly wages and tips at Harrah’s.

“Oh Lord, what should I do?” Whitfield said. “Should I get up with these bad knees and walk around Walmart? Or should I wait on the casino to call?”

Read the full story from our partners at New Orleans Public Radio here.

This story was produced by the Gulf States Newsroom, a collaboration between Mississippi Public Broadcasting, WBHM in Birmingham, Ala., WWNO in New Orleans and NPR.

 

The UAW’s union dreams seemed unstoppable. Then came the realities of the South

After a historic victory in Tennessee, the United Auto Workers southern campaign is still recovering from a big rejection in Alabama. How will it recover?

Exhibit shows the ‘real people’ around the Civil Rights Movement

The Temple Beth El Civil Rights Experience is a guided tour that allows visitors to explore the lives of Jewish people during the Civil Rights Movement. The exhibit highlighted Jews who were passionate activists and Jews who didn’t do much for the cause.

Alabama executes man convicted of killing delivery driver during a 1998 robbery attempt

Keith Edmund Gavin was pronounced dead at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in southwest Alabama, authorities said. He was convicted of capital murder in the shooting death of courier service driver William Clayton Jr. in Cherokee County.

Thousands of Dollar General stores now sell fresh produce. Could it improve rural food access?

The discount store chain has added fresh fruits and vegetables at more than 5,400 stores. Grocery store advocates say the move could hurt mom-and-pop grocers.

2 shootings in Birmingham kill 7 people, including young child, Alabama police say

Four people died in a shooting at a Birmingham nightclub late Saturday, while an earlier shooting outside a home in the city killed three people, including a young child, authorities in Alabama said.

Shooting at Trump rally is being investigated as assassination attempt, AP sources say

Donald Trump appeared to be the target of an assassination attempt as he spoke during a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday, law enforcement officials said. The former president, his ear covered in blood from what he said was a gunshot, was quickly pulled away by Secret Service agents and his campaign said he was “fine.”

More Coronavirus Coverage