Governor Newsom vetoed Senate Bill 799 on Saturday, legislation that would have allowed workers to collect unemployment pay while on strike after two weeks, disappointing union leaders who had hoped to capitalize on a wave of high-profile walkouts during the state’s “hot labor summer” this year.
SB 799 would have also codified case law that employees who left work due to a lockout by their employer, even if it was in anticipation of a trade dispute, are eligible for UI benefits.
Newsom said in a veto message that he rejected giving California unemployment checks to strikers because it would have cost too much.
He said the “UI financing structure has not been updated since 1984, which has made the UI Trust Fund vulnerable to insolvency. Any expansion of eligibility for UI benefits could increase California’s outstanding federal UI debt projected to be nearly $20 billion by the end of the year and could jeopardize California’s Benefit Cost Ratio add-on waiver application, significantly increasing taxes on employers.”
“Furthermore, the state is responsible for the interest payments on the federal UI loan and to date has paid $362.7 million in interest with another $302 million due this month. Now is not the time to increase costs or incur this sizable debt.”
The Governor also rejected SB 686, which would have extended workplace safety protections to domestic workers, such as housekeepers and nannies.
In his veto message he said “new laws in this area must recognize that private households and families cannot be regulated in the exact same manner as traditional businesses.“
“SB 686 as written would make private household employers immediately subject to the full set of existing workplace safety and health regulations governing businesses in the state, starting January 1, 2025.”
“These obligations range from the requirement to establish an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program to providing an eyewash station if household workers use chemicals like bleach, to implementing a Hazard Communication Program.”
“Additionally, the current penalty scheme was meant for businesses and not private individuals. For a domestic employer covered by SB 686, these penalties could be up to $15,000 per violation depending on the circumstances.”