California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom has vetoed a bill that would have allowed striking workers to be eligible for unemployment benefits. The bill had been inspired by high-profile work stoppages in Hollywood and the hotel industry. Newsom cited the high debt of the state’s unemployment benefits fund as the reason for his veto. The fund is already over $18 billion in debt due to the pandemic and cases of fraud. Labor unions criticized the decision, claiming it favors corporations over workers’ rights.
The bill would have granted unemployment benefits to workers who had been on strike for at least two weeks. This would have provided some financial relief to workers in the hotel and entertainment industries who have been striking for months without pay. However, Newsom argued that the state’s unemployment benefits fund is already heavily indebted, and increasing costs at this time would not be feasible. Labor unions countered this by stating that the number of workers on strike for longer than two weeks is minimal and would not significantly affect the fund. The veto has been seen as a blow to workers’ rights and a favor to corporations by labor unions.
The decision to veto the bill comes as a disappointment to striking hotel workers, actors, and writers in California who have been advocating for better working conditions and fair pay. The state’s unemployment benefits fund is already struggling with a significant amount of debt due to the pandemic and cases of fraud. Additionally, the fund’s collection is not keeping up with the increased unemployment benefits payouts. While workers have been demanding their rights, the veto reflects a prioritization of debt reduction and overall economic stability. Critics argue that this decision leans in favor of corporations instead of supporting workers in their fight for better conditions.