Help Payday Afford Paid Sick Time Off – Help Us Close Unexpected Revenue Hole



Typically when we do a big fundraiser, we cut a slick video that explains all of the successes over the past year, but we are so broke that all we can afford to post is this old YouTube video of the Osborne Brothers singing “Rocky Top”.

Due to a series of unexpected events, a bad bout of asthma forcing me to miss freelance assignments, over $500 rental car expenses from my car dying, and not receiving an expected large donation, Payday’s monthly revenue is $2,500 lower than we expected than at the beginning of the month.

Already, we raised $1,500 to help get my furniture back from Chattanooga, now we wanna plug the whole hole. 

Help Us Reach Our  Goal of $2,500

$1,812 / $2,500

Donate Here!

Since leaving the hills of Eastern Tennessee in the fall of 2016, Payday has lived in 5 different locations; bouncing between spare rooms of activists and temporary subleases. Now after nearly 2 years, my finances improved to the point where I could afford a proper grown-up apartment of my own in a beautiful mixed-income affordable housing community that was willing to look the other way on my past eviction in granting me a lease.

However, I can’t afford to get my furniture including my dead grandparents’ dining room table home from storage in Chattanooga.

Now, it looks like we won’t have the $1,500 we need to move my grandparents’ dining room table and so many other things. I miss my Count Basie records, my family heirlooms and photographs, my cute green tv trays, my little rolling tv stand for when come comes over, and of course the many Civil War artifacts I collected in my time down south.

We need $1,500 to fly down to Chattanooga, paying for lodging for a few days to spend the time necessary to donate old furniture to a refugee resettlement group and ship the rest up North.

Also, while down in Tennesee, we intend to fulfill the terms of a $2,000 grant looking at how the municipal broadband has been used for racial equality programming. If we could raise the money to go down there to complete this assignment, Payday’s finances will be in tip-top shape. 

More important not only would this help us get our furniture back while also donating some much-needed furniture to refugee families in Chattanooga.

Help Us Reach Our  Goal of $1,500

$1,812 / $1,500

Donate Here!

As many of you know, Payday was founded in the battle to unionize Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

In the fall of 2016, Payday was evicted from our first headquarters, my apartment in Chattanooga in the fall of 2016 after falling short on the rent.

In the year that followed, we crisscrossed the country; traveling more than 20,000 miles in a 2003 Dodge Neon and staying for free in the homes of activists all over the South that were able to help us. Over one 6 month period, we stayed in 17 homes and spent a summer living dirt cheap on an organic chicken farm in Goshen, Kentucky.

Slowly as we proved our worth as a publication to our readers, finances got better and we settled down into a temporary apartment back home in Pittsburgh.  Last week, I was finally able to move into a grown-up apartment and I’d like to stock it with the very grown-up furniture that I already own, but can’t afford to bring back from storage in Tennessee.

We are no longer begging for rent money constantly as we did in the early days of Payday as finances improve (Thank god, the days of nightly twitter pledge drive begging for grocery money were mentally and emotionally exhausting)

However, the precarity of the gig freelance economy means that when I get sick, I don’t get paid, when cars break, I am forced to pay for rentals out of my own pocket to do Payday work, and when donations dip, we sometimes need to go to our readers and ask for money. 

As a publication, we’ve done a lot that I am very proud of here. 

Not only did we put out more stories on the teachers strike on the ground than any other national publication, but we helped to set the standard for reporting on the teachers’ strikes. Reporters at the New York Times said that the Times often read Payday before reading other publications on the teachers strike.

Long before national publications started talking about a wave of union organizing in the South, Payday Senior Labor Reporter Mike Elk was predicting back in 2016 that the South was on the verge of a massive union uprising if only reporters would cover it.

Our work has been educational for many reporters and cited widely in The Guardian, USA Today Network,  HuffPost, Politico,  Esquire, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Columbia Journalism Review, Al-Jazeera, Knoxville News Sentinel, Democracy Now!, and CBS Pittsburgh. In addition, journalists from the New York Times, the Washington Post, Reuters, Bloomberg, and reporters from other nationals outlets routinely link to our work on Twitter.

As a small publication, we have already achieved big results: forcing the DNC to pay its interns, getting a staffer fired for sexual misconduct, and most importantly, forcing corporate owned media outlets to cover stories that they wouldn’t cover. State record requests show that even top union-busting officials read Payday and can be caught swearing about it (see “Documents Show University of Tennessee President Swearing About Payday Article on Campus Workers’ Victory”)

I know that my readers have helped me out and now I ask their help once again to get my furniture back from Chattanooga.

While we no longer to need to fundraise constantly off of our readers in the early days to pay bills, the precarity of the gig economy and a donation-based platform means that from time-to-time, we need to come to you with some urgent requests.  Freelance assignment do get missed when bouts of asthma happen, cars do break and when they do I have to pay rental car fees out of my pocket to do payday work, and sometimes expected donations just don’t materialize so we need your help.

This month was unexpectedly rough for Payday.

So please if you can donate and if you can’t do, share this on social media and encourage your friends to donate.

Thanks again,


About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is a member of the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild and is the senior labor reporter at Payday Report. He previously served as senior labor reporter at POLITICO and has written for the New York Times. He also writes for The Guardian.

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