<< Back

Legislation Granting Striking Workers Right to Unemployment Insurance Passes First Committee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Unai Montes, Unai@calaborfed.org, 310.962.7369 (Bilingual)

Legislation Granting Striking Workers Right to Unemployment Insurance Passes First Committee

Sacramento, CA – (Wednesday, April 24, 2024) –
Today, Senate Bill 1116  which would grant workers on strike the right to access unemployment insurance benefits passed the Senate Labor, Public Employment, and Retirement Committee on a 4-1 vote. This morning, Lorena Gonzalez, Chief Officer of the California Labor Federation, Senators Anthony Portantino (D-Burbank) and Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), and labor unions across the state announced the reintroduction of this priority bill after it was vetoed by Governor Newsom last year, despite broad support from local, state, and federal lawmakers.

“It’s cruel to allow workers exercising their right to strike to go hungry, bankrupt, or lose their homes. Striking workers have earned their unemployment insurance benefits. They deserve to use them,” said Lorena Gonzalez, head of the California Labor Federation, sponsor of the bill. “It’s time we end this unfair exclusion of striking workers from accessing unemployment insurance. They’ve already earned these benefits. We can’t have workers economically insecure because they’re temporarily out of work. It harms them and their families and has rippling effects on the entire community.”

“Workers do not go on strike because they want to – they generally do it as a last resort,” stated Senator Portantino, author of SB 1116. “SB 1116 helps California’s workers keep food on their table and provides financial security for their families. I am grateful to the broad coalition labor advocates who are supporting this sensible effort to help employees and our economy during a time of significant workforce and labor unrest.”

When workers on strike can make their rent payments on time, when they can afford to buy groceries for their families, that not only provides a critical safety-net to their families, it benefits small businesses and entire communities. Economists estimate that for every $1 spent on unemployment benefits, $2 worth of economic activity is generated, creating a “multiplier effect” that means vital assistance for depressed local economies. This modest benefit goes directly into grocery stores, restaurants, and childcare to preserve jobs and generate local revenue.

“In 2003, 70,000 workers in Southern California were on strike and locked out by Ralphs and Albertsons because we wanted a fair contract that provided us good wages and benefits,” said Victor Valenciano, a produce clerk/cashier at Vons in Covina and UFCW 1428 member. “While I was striking seven days a week, I was undergoing cancer treatment and needed to be able to afford COBRA health insurance. I relied on a friend to help pay my bills and had to wait until after the strike to have the surgery I needed. Striking workers shouldn’t be worried about affording health insurance or how to keep a roof over their heads while they’re fighting for a better contract.”

The California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO represents over 1,300 affiliated unions in California with over 2.3 million union members in trucking, retail, hospitality, janitorial, construction, health care, local and state government, education, arts and entertainment, warehousing and logistics, manufacturing, and a variety of other sectors.

###

<< Back