California’s embattled Employment Development Department could be required to provide benefits to striking workers if Gov. Gavin Newsom signs a bill giving them rights. Critics argue that EDD has enough problems to address before the next recession.
More than 150,000 California workers who lost their jobs since 2020 are still fighting to have their unemployment benefits delayed or denied. At the same time, the state paid an estimated $30 billion in fraudulent claims, dramatically more than any other state on both a real and per capita basis.
The state fund that helps unemployed workers is more than $18 billion in debt with no end in sight.
With the unemployment system in such clear crisis, some expect lawmakers to spend the final days of this month focused on strengthening California’s Employment Development Department, which administers the state’s unemployment system. Maybe.
In fact, they made things worse.
After intense lobbying, lawmakers approved giving unemployment to an entirely new category of beneficiaries: striking workers. The move is a dramatic departure from the program that President Franklin D. Roosevelt created through the Social Security Act of 1935, which provides economic relief to workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. The aim was to alleviate the difficulties faced by
New responsibilities are clearly the last thing EDD needs. In her recent book, Re-Coding America, former Obama administration official Jen Palka details how dramatically the Obama administration collapsed three years ago. Lawmakers will recall how their offices were flooded with calls from thousands of constituents who wanted to secure unemployment benefits but were unable to contact EDD.
Perhaps more troubling is that EDD didn’t even know how large the backlog was. The agency estimated he had 239,000 cases. In reality, it was five times that amount.
There is still a possibility that another recession will occur. A recent Wall Street Journal poll of economists found that there is a more than 50-50 chance of a recession over the next 12 months. Now is the time to create a system that can provide unemployment benefits to unemployed people. This is about the most basic job governments do on behalf of people: prevention and response. This is not the time to draw up new plays on dirt.
Even if California’s unemployment system is in good shape, this law would break troubling new ground. California has a relatively supportive unemployment system that allows workers to leave their jobs even if they have a valid reason for leaving and have made every reasonable effort to keep their jobs. can receive unemployment benefits. The new law, Senate Bill 799, has no provision for evaluating whether there is just cause for a strike. Any strike is a good strike if signed. However, history has made clear that while strikes are an important means for workers to assert their rights, they have also been abused at times by labor leaders obsessed with their own power and prestige. It is.
Now that the battle in Congress is over, all eyes are on the governor. Unlike Congress, it cannot afford to indulge parochial interests in the face of harsh fiscal realities. He has used his veto power accordingly in recent years, including making difficult choices like refusing to provide unemployment benefits to undocumented workers last year.
If states can’t afford to extend unemployment benefits to people doing uneven and back-breaking work in the fields, then they should think long and hard before extending such benefits to people who are waiting for work. You should think about it.
To gauge what Californians think about this policy, we need to consider the hundreds of thousands of low- and moderate-income workers who have left California in recent years. They have not gone to the two states that provide unemployment insurance to striking workers: New York and New Jersey. Instead, they moved to states with lower housing costs, better schools, and less poverty.
But if you need some commentary on what workers in your life think about the priorities of the unemployment system, the EDD lists the names of 150,000 Californians willing to share their opinions. Sho.
California lawmakers sent a bill to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk this month that, if signed, would provide unemployment benefits to striking workers. A Hollywood writer said California workers who help pay for the state’s unemployment insurance fund are entitled to benefits if they take action for fair wages and workplace conditions.
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