Gavin Newsom Rejects Bill to Grant Unemployed Workers Benefits

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Image: Mario Tama/Getty Images (Getty Images)

Once it became clear the Hollywood strikes would be going on longer than anyone initially believe, Democratic senators in California wrote up a bill to compensate workers on strike. With backing from the WGA and SAG-AFTRA, the hope was that it would be passed and provide money to anyone out of work in the entertainment industry (and similarly striking hotel workers) in a city that’s already pretty expensive to live in. The writers strike may be over, but bills were (and still are) continuing to pile up for folks.

But according to the Associated Press, California governor Gavin Newsom vetoed the bill on Saturday night. While previously having voiced his support for unions (and received various donations to his campaign from labor unions), Newsom rejected the bill because California’s unemployment benefits fund is expected to be $20 billion in the hole by the end of 2023. The fund reportedly ran out of money during early COVID and from massive amounts of unemployment fraud—and not enough money has been collected to pay all the owed benefits. In a veto message, he plainly stated that it wasn’t the right time “to increase costs or incur this sizable debt.”

Had the bill been approved, workers who’d been striking for at least two weeks would’ve been eligible for unemployment checks from California. Those checks can go as high as $450 a week, a number that labor organizers argued was so small it wouldn’t make that much of an impact on the unemployment fund. Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, who operates as the executive secretary-treasurer for the state’s labor federation, said Newsom’s veto “tips the scales further in favor of corporations and CEOs and punishes workers who exercise their fundamental right to strike. At a time when public support of unions and strikes are at an all-time high, this veto is out-of-step with American values.”

Even with Newsom’s veto, the CLF doesn’t appear to be giving up. As seen in the tweet above, Fletcher wrote that the organization would “keep fighting until striking workers get the benefits they’ve earned. The AP acknowledged it may be possible for lawmakers to just go ahead and pass the bill regardless of his decision—but noted it’s been “decades” since a California governor had their veto overruled.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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