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California could lose billions of dollars, thousands of jobs

July 29, 2020 by CALmatters

CALMATTERS) – California has a lot riding on federal unemployment benefits set to expire this week.


The Golden State could sink even deeper into recession and lose thousands more jobs if the Republican proposal to decrease weekly benefits from $600 to $200 is enacted, according to several recent studies. Congressional Democrats want to keep the $600 weekly addition to state unemployment benefits, which in California max out at $450.


California would lose about $1.4 billion weekly and $12.9 billion by the end of September under the GOP plan, according to the nonpartisan Century Foundation. It would also lose nearly 560,000 jobs over the next year, more than any other state, the progressive Economic Policy Institute found.


◾Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican: “The goal is to eliminate the prospect that one can make more not working than working. We’re trying to hit that sweet spot to continue unemployment insurance at an adequate level but not in effect pay people to stay at home.”


But if California Democrats have their way, the $600 additional weekly benefits will continue even if the GOP’s plan is approved.


Lawmakers on Monday released a $100 billion plan that proposes borrowing money from the feds to make up the difference in unemployment benefits — one of the few options California has to stimulate its own economy, CalMatters’ Ben Christopher reports.


◾Assemblymember Adam Gray, a Merced Democrat: “We cannot count on Washington, D.C., for anything these days. If we want solutions to the economic challenges created by COVID-19, we must have the resolve to create and fund them ourselves.”


More than 292,000 Californians applied for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total to nearly 7 million since the onset of the pandemic.


Lawmakers on Thursday will conduct an oversight hearing on California’s beleaguered unemployment department — but a committee this week delayed consideration of Republicans’ request for a formal audit.

A broken union election system

New report takes an inside look at how employers bust unions

7/23/2020-EPI News

EPI released a new report providing an inside account of how employers routinely threaten, intimidate, and harass workers to stop them from exercising their right to collective bargaining. Specifically, the authors take a deep dive into unionization drives at Kumho Tire in Georgia and DISH TV corporation branches in Texas to illustrate what employer opposition campaigns look like on the ground.


The report details common employer tactics that often turn overwhelming support for unions at the outset of a campaign into a “no” vote just weeks later, including:


Forcing employees to attend daily anti-union meetings where pro-union workers have no right to present alternative views and can be fired on the spot if they ask a question.

Plastering the workplace with anti-union posters, banners, and looping video ads—and denying pro-union employees access to any of these media.


Instructing managers to tell employees that there’s a good chance they will lose their jobs if they vote to unionize.


A previous 2019 EPI report showed that employers collectively spend $340 million per year on “union avoidance” consultants who teach them how to exploit weaknesses in federal labor law to effectively scare workers out of exercising their legal right to collective bargaining.


“Protecting the right to collective bargaining is key to solving the crisis of economic inequality. When workers have the ability to bargain collectively with their employers, the division of corporate profits is more equally shared between employees, management, and shareholders. When workers can’t exercise this right—as is often the case—inequality grows and wages stagnate,” said Gordon Lafer, professor at the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center and co-author of the report.


The report calls on legislators to reform federal labor laws, including by passing and enacting the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and extending labor rights to farmworkers, domestic workers, and independent contractors who are currently excluded from federal union rights.


“The importance of unions has been even further heightened by both the COVID-19 pandemic and the national protests around racial justice. In recent months, thousands of nonunion workers have been left without personal protective equipment, hazard pay, and access to sick leave,” said Lola Loustaunau, research fellow at the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center and co-author of the report. “Unionization has helped bring living wages to once low-wage jobs in industries such as health care and is a key tool for closing racial wage gaps. Congress must ensure workers have a meaningful right to organize and bargain collectively.”

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