Safety Net for All Coalition Launches Statewide Campaign to Pass AB 2847, Unemployment Benefits for Excluded Immigrant Workers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 2022
Sumeet Bal, Communications Director, California Immigrant Policy Center 917.647.1952 email@example.com
Hayley Burgess, Communications Manager, California Immigrant Policy Center, 626-497-2341, firstname.lastname@example.org
Marco Montoya, (909) 728-3805, email@example.com
SACRAMENTO – The Safety Net for All coalition, a statewide network of immigrant and worker rights organizations, launched a campaign Thursday to win unemployment benefits for excluded immigrant workers in California.
Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia of Coachella introduced the legislation, known as AB 2847. The bill has quickly gained eight coauthors: Assemblymembers Blanca Rubio, Robert Rivas, Mia Bonta, Miguel Santiago, Lisa Calderon; and Senators Maria Elena Durazo, Anna Caballero and Ben Hueso.
Dozens of supporters gathered at the Capitol on Mar. 3 to show their support for the Legislation, which would create a pilot program for excluded immigrant workers, and to call on California officials to include funding for the program in the state budget. The program would provide unemployed workers who are ineligible for regular unemployment insurance due to their immigration status with $300 per week for up to 20 weeks.
“Unemployment insurance for undocumented workers is crucial to keeping people out of poverty and providing a safety net to our most vulnerable populations,” said Assembly Member Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles). “Undocumented workers contribute $3.2 billion annually in local taxes, tax dollars fund unemployment insurance but undocumented workers cannot access a system they pay taxes for in California. This must change.”
“COVID-19 is not the first crisis to hit California’s workers and it won’t be the last. Stimulus payments are critical, but unemployment benefits are what really have allowed people to survive. To build a more equitable and resilient economy, we must fund excluded workers, and AB 2847 is the first step to doing just that. Everyone deserves financial relief when they lose their job, and every industry in California should be able to benefit from a more stabilized workforce. Funding excluded workers is the right thing to do for workers, for employers, for our communities and for our economy, and we are so thankful for Assemblymember Garcia’s leadership,” said Sasha Feldstein of the California Immigrant Policy Center.
“Excluded workers make up a significant portion of workers in California and they must be recognized and respected. Currently, these folks don’t have any wage support if they lose their jobs through no fault of their own. The pandemic has shown clearly how precarious too many workers are in California and we have an opportunity to fix it. Just like New York, we can support undocumented workers,” said Eddie Gonzalez of the Warehouse Worker Resource Center.
“About two million workers in California, 1 in every 16, are categorically excluded from unemployment insurance because of their immigration status. Excluding so many people from the safety net wipes out many immigrant families’ life savings, pushes others into thousands of dollars of debt and leaves others to risk their well-being to work and make ends meet. That is unacceptable and that is why we are supporting AB 2847,” said Trabajadores Unidos/Workers United.
“California is the world’s fifth largest economy, yet over a million of its workers lack eligibility for the most basic safety net provision: unemployment benefits. AB 2847 is an important step in modernizing the safety net for California workers on the frontlines of the global economy and major disasters,” said Dr. Edward Orozco Flores from UC Merced Community and Labor Center.
“You can’t stand up for what’s right at work while living in fear that if the boss doesn’t like you, your family could be on the street the next day. We need our state to step up and provide a safety net for excluded workers if we want our laws like minimum wage or health and safety protections on the job to have real force and meaning,” said Elly Matsumura from PowerSwitch California.
“Since I was a kid, I remember my parents working hard every day. Often they would work through the weekend, even on days when they were sick. I always wondered why? And now that I’m an adult, I know why, and now I wonder how?. I know our immigrant communities are excluded from many resources. That same exclusion made my father work until a few days before he passed because he didn’t have a safety net to hold on to. I’m a proud participant of the Safety Net for All coalition because I believe that all our communities deserve to be included. Together we have the power to stop that exclusion,” said Flor Rodriguez from CLEAN Carwash Worker Center.
“California is an economic powerhouse and a global center for innovation, but not all workers who have helped to build this economy benefit from the state’s bounty. Approximately one in sixteen California workers are excluded from unemployment insurance due to immigration status, placing them and their families at risk of financial devastation in the event of job loss. We need to expand the social safety net to build a resilient and equitable economy for all, which is why we support AB 2847,” said Dana Hadl from Bet Tzedek Legal Services.
“California has a nearly $30 billion budget surplus this year. We are demanding that a portion of this state’s immense wealth be allocated to support the undocumented workers who have carried this state through the pandemic, and yet have been entirely excluded from key safety net programs like unemployment insurance. AB 2847 is an absolutely essential step towards building a resilient economy that works for everyone,” said Kim Ouillette from Legal Aid at Work.
“California’s over 49 billion agricultural industry employs an estimated 800,000 farmworkers in mostly seasonal jobs — a quarter of them Indigenous, who don’t speak Spanish or English — rarely holding full-time, year-round work. The past emergencies, fires, pandemic, and drought have magnified the inequities and dire conditions that have prevailed in the farmworker community and have left them without any safety net to support their families. As essential workers, and experts in their fields, it is past time that farmworkers have the same opportunity as any other Californian. We ask for our state leadership to be bold in supporting the professionals who put food on our tables,” said Dr. Sarait Martinez from Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño.
The Safety Net for All Coalition is comprised of over 100 organizations throughout California united by the fight for an inclusive safety net for all workers. This year, the coalition is calling for unemployment benefits for immigrant workers who are currently excluded from unemployment insurance. AB 2847, the Excluded Workers Pilot Program, would provide temporary wage replacement for undocumented workers who cannot work. The Covid-19 pandemic put a spotlight on gaps in support for California’s workforce. SN4A is fighting to include excluded workers to strengthen families, communities and the California economy.