Bord Foren


California governor rejects bill to give unemployment checks to striking workers

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California won’t be giving unemployment checks to workers on strike, with Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoing a bill Saturday that had been inspired by high-profile work stoppages in Hollywood and the hotel industry.

Newsom, a Democrat, says he supports workers and often benefits from campaign contributions from labor unions. But he said he vetoed this bill because the fund the state uses to pay unemployment benefits will be nearly $20 billion in debt by the end of the year.

“Now is not the time to increase costs or incur this sizable debt,” Newsom wrote in a veto message.

The fund the state uses to pay unemployment benefits is already more than $18 billion in debt. That’s because the fund ran out of money and had to borrow from the federal government during the pandemic, when Newsom ordered most businesses to close and caused a massive spike in unemployment. The fund was also beset by massive amounts of fraud that cost the state billions of dollars.

Other news
California running back Jaydn Ott (1) runs against Arizona State linebacker Caleb McCullough (22) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Berkeley, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)Ott and California’s defense step up in 24-21 win over Arizona StateFILE - The iPhone 15 phones are shown during an announcement of new products on the Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. Apple on Saturday, Sept. 30, blamed a software bug some other issues tied to popular apps such as Instagram and Uber for causing its recently released iPhone 15 models to overheat and sparking complaints about being too hot to handle. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)Apple says it will fix software problems blamed for making iPhone 15 models too hot to handleFILE - San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein carries a candle as she leads an estimated 15,000 marchers also carrying candles during a march in memory of slain Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in San Francisco, Nov. 28, 1979. After Feinstein, the nation’s oldest sitting U.S. senator, died at age 90, LGBTQ+ leaders are lauding her as a longtime friend dating to a time when not many could be found. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)Dianne Feinstein was at the center of a key LGBTQ+ moment. She’s being lauded as an evolving ally

Plus, labor unions said unemployment benefits are good for the economy, allowing workers on strike to still spend money and support local businesses.

“That money is going to corner stores, to restaurants, to caterers, to nail salons, to the small businesses that are also struggling along with workers who are on strike,” Sarah Flocks, legislative and strategic campaign director for the California Labor Federation, told lawmakers during a public hearing earlier this month.

READ:   McDonald’s pumps brakes on prices as US traffic falls slightly, but Q3 sales beat expectations

The bill would have let workers who were on strike for at least two weeks receive unemployment checks from the state, which can be as much as $450 per week. Normally, only workers who lost their job through no fault of their own are eligible for those benefits.

Labor unions had argued that the amount of workers on strike for more than two weeks is so small it would not have had a significant impact on the state’s unemployment trust fund. Of the 56 strikes in California over the past decade, only two lasted longer than two weeks, according to Democratic state Sen. Anthony Portantino, the author of the bill.

The legislation was an attempt by Democratic state lawmakers to support Southern California hotel workers and Hollywood actors and writers who have been on strike for much of this year. The writers strike ended Sept. 26, but the other two are ongoing — meaning many workers have gone months without pay.

Beyond the debt, the Newsom administration has said the fund is not collecting enough money to pay all of the benefits owed. The money comes from a tax businesses must pay on each worker. But that tax only applies to the first $7,000 of workers’ wages, a figure that has not changed since 1984 and is the lowest amount allowed under federal law.

Meanwhile, unemployment benefits have increased. The Newsom administration has predicted benefit payments will exceed tax collections by $1.1 billion this year. It’s the first time this has happened during a period of job growth, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office.

READ:   Lawyers and judge hash out juror questions for Powell and Chesebro trial in Georgia election case

Lawmakers could attempt to pass the law anyway, but it’s been decades since a governor’s veto was overruled in California.