September 29, 2022
Sacramento, CA — Today, the Safety Net for All Coalition, composed of over 120 organizational members, expresses its disappointment over Governor Newsom’s veto of AB 2847 (E. Garcia), which would have created an Excluded Worker Pilot Program. The bill included 13 legislative co-authors and passed the legislature with bi-partisan support. AB 2847 would have created a program to extend unemployment benefits to the one in 16 workers in California who are excluded from Unemployment Insurance solely due to their immigration status. This exclusion has wiped out families’ life savings, pushed people into thousands of dollars of debt, and forced others to risk their lives to make ends meet. Many of these workers have been called “essential” during the COVID-19 pandemic, but are not treated as such due to categorical exclusions from relief programs.
The Safety Net for All Coalition knows that unemployment benefits for excluded immigrant workers is an investment in the very workers who lead California out of public health, climate or economic crises. The decision to not fund AB 2847 means less economic resilience and forcing many immigrant workers to work on the frontlines of disaster without access to a safety net, at greater risk of losing their homes, getting sick, or falling into poverty.
While the Governor noted other initiatives for California’s immigrants in his veto message, it failed to recognize that the state has fallen behind when it comes to providing unemployment benefits for excluded immigrant workers. Colorado passed permanent unemployment insurance for undocumented workers this year, and New York invested $2.1 billion in an Excluded Workers Fund. California is the 5th largest economy in the world, and has enjoyed a significant budget surplus, due to the labor and contributions of excluded immigrant workers, which include over $3 billion a year in state and local taxes. Meanwhile, California employers contribute an estimated $459 million a year to the Unemployment Insurance Fund on behalf of undocumented workers—yet those workers do not see a cent of the benefits.
The Safety Net for All Coalition will continue to work with a broad group of organizations, legislators, and Governor Newsom to ensure that extending unemployment benefits to excluded immigrant workers is a budget priority for 2023. This inclusive policy is critical to California’s resilience, well-being, and vision of a California for All.
The following quotes are attributed to leaders of the Safety Net for All Coalition:
Sasha Feldstein, Economic Justice Director at California Immigrant Policy Center: “The COVID-19 pandemic is not the first crisis to hit California, and it won’t be the last. Instead of having to scramble every time disaster hits, we should be investing in our collective future now to ensure that no one is excluded from relief. Without AB 2847, our state will unfortunately continue to exacerbate economic inequities for our communities. We saw it happen during COVID, and we’ll see it happen again until we remove exclusions to all benefits, including unemployment benefits.”
Flor Rodriguez, Executive Director of CLEAN Carwash: “Una vez más nuestro futuro es incierto, señor Gobernador. Usted dijo que éramos esenciales y simplemente nos volvió a dejar excluidos y sin derecho a una vida mejor al decidir no firmar AB 2847. Pero es necesario que tome en cuenta que seguimos aquí, luchando para que nuestra voz y nuestro trabajo sea tomado en cuenta!
Kim Ouillette, attorney with Legal Aid at Work: “Undocumented workers should have access to the same benefits that all other Californians can count on when they lose a job. It is fundamentally unjust that these workers are left with no safety net, while taxes on their labor subsidize an unemployment system that they can never benefit from.”
Alejo, Director of Trabajadores Unidos/Workers United: “Undocumented workers are the backbone of the restaurant industry in San Francisco, and we are incredibly disappointed at their continued exclusion from unemployment insurance. Latine and Asian workers in San Francisco are calling for more leadership from the Governor to support our immigrant families.”
Sarait Martinez, Executive Director at Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño: “Our undocumented communities have felt Governor Newson’s support to end the exclusion of racist systems that continue to leave undocumented workers out of basic rights, such as health care or the right to unionize. However, vetoing and not prioritizing AB 2847 sends a mixed message to all essential workers who sacrificed their lives during the pandemic. And for farmworkers, who, in his own words, are the “lifeblood of our state,” but because of his decision, will continue to be excluded from having access to a basic safety net.”
The Safety Net for All Coalition (SN4A) is composed of over 120 organizations throughout California united by the fight for an inclusive safety net for all workers. SN4A’s vision is an accessible public employment benefit for all workers, regardless of immigration status.