ACTION ALERT!!! - Tell Governor Newsom To Veto Unemployment Insurance for Striking Workers - SB 799
SB 799 was amended at the end of the 2023 legislative session to allow unemployment benefits for striking workers and has been passed by the legislature and sent to Governor Newsom for his consideration. The measure would give striking workers the ability to claim unemployment after two weeks of striking.
Impact on the union construction Industry:
SB 799 fundamentally alters the nature of unemployment Insurance (UI) by providing unemployment to workers who still have a job and have chosen to temporarily refuse to work as a negotiating tactic. Striking is obviously a federally protected right and has historically been a key strategy in labor disputes, but – to put it simply – being on strike is not the same as being laid off.
Complicating the issue is the fact that a major component in California’s method of determining employer UI contribution rates, called “experience rating,” uses a formula that measures the stability of the employer’s employment and the potential for future unemployment. Essentially, California assesses higher UI contribution rates on employers that have a history of more frequent layoffs to encourage employers to maintain their payrolls during temporary slow periods.
Because California uses “experience ratings” to determine UI contribution rates, If SB 799 is passed, unions who choose to strike would also be inadvertently impacting a signatory contractor’s UI “experience rating” and driving up their UI taxes for years to come, making union contractors less competitive against their nonunion competitors. The construction industry is highly competitive as construction projects are primally awarded to the lowest bidder, and while union firms like mine continue to be successful in securing work, even while providing wages that are 40-50 percent more than my nonunion counterparts, policies that penalize union employers and make them less competitive in the open market will ultimately end up eliminating job opportunities for the union construction employees themselves. Plainly, nonunion employers won’t be hit with the same increased UI costs.
By forcing employers to pay UI payments to striking workers, this bill would raise costs on employers across the state and more specifically make union employers less competitive.
Union construction contractors are encouraged to oppose SB 799.
Use your voice to take action on important industry issues:
Urge other California union signatory contractors to make their voices heard! Email peers and ask them to take action today by visiting this website.
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