California’s governor rejects a bill to give unemployment checks to striking workers

California Governor Gavin Newsom has vetoed a bill to give unemployment checks to striking workers, citing concerns over state debt.

Bill at a glance: The bill would have allowed workers who had been on strike for at least two weeks to receive unemployment checks, up to $450 per week.
* While usually, only workers who lost their jobs due to no fault of their own are eligible for such benefits, this bill sought to extend this coverage to workers on strike.

The governor’s perspective: Newsom, despite his criticisms, argues that the state’s fund for paying unemployment benefits will be nearly $20 billion in debt by year’s end.
* The fund, which is already in more than $18 billion of debt, ran out of money during the pandemic, leading to a massive amount of borrowing from the federal government.
* Given these financial constraints, Newsom wrote in his veto message that “Now is not the time to increase costs or incur this sizable debt.”

Against the veto: Supporters of the bill, including labor unions, argued that the number of striking workers who would benefit from the bill is small enough not to significantly impact the state’s unemployment trust fund.
* Critics of Newsom’s veto, like Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher of the California Labor Federation, claim it sides with corporations over workers, and is out of step with public sentiment which supports unions and strikes.

Looking ahead: It remains uncertain whether lawmakers will attempt to override Newsom’s veto, a feat not achieved in California for decades.

View original article on NPR

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