The state’s Employment Development Department, which handles unemployment claims, is still working to resolve thousands of backlogged cases and battling fraud. Emily Hoeven, who writes the daily WhatMatters newsletter for the nonprofit newsroom CalMatters, returns to “Civic” with the latest on how the state is handling unemployment.
Hundreds of Muni workers have fallen ill with the coronavirus and two have died, said Roger Marenco, president of the Transport Workers Union Local 250A. For others, he said, the pressures of the job have only been worsened by the additional dangers posed by a global pandemic.
“We had to look at community spread,” said Susan Solomon, president of the United Educators of San Francisco. “That was very important to us, that we not just protect ourselves, but protect our communities as well.”
Non Plus Ultra, an event company that leases the Palace of Fine Arts, Pier 70, and the Old Mint, is under fire from employees who allege it filed fraudulent unemployment claims, harassed and bullied staff, and fired them when they confronted leadership, according to a lawsuit filed March 1 in San Francisco Superior Court.
Grocery store workers are the latest to be eligible for vaccination. As part of our “Essential Worker” series we spoke with Jim Araby, director of strategic campaigns for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 about how they are trying to get their 28,000 members vaccinated and why they are fighting for hazard pay during the remaining days of the pandemic.
Nine California legislators have proposed a slate of reform bills that would try to address some of the biggest obstacles to getting unemployment benefits to those who are eligible for them. Among them is Assemblyman David Chiu, who represents California’s 17th district, which covers much of the eastern part of San Francisco, and discussed the proposals with “Civic.”
Last year’s Proposition 22 allowed companies that dispatch app-based workers to continue considering them independent contractors, while adding some limited worker benefits. Veena Dubal, a professor of law at UC Hastings who conducts ethnographic and legal research on the gig economy, relays workers’ experiences and examines how it might lay the groundwork for other industries to shift toward gig work on “Civic.”
CalMatters, a nonprofit newsroom, has been reporting that the unemployment department is grappling with fraud — and unemployed people are ending up locked out of their benefits. Lauren Hepler, the economy reporter at CalMatters, and Emily Hoeven, who writes CalMatters’ daily “What Matters” newsletter, joined “Civic” to explain how the situation has unfolded.
Workers’ rights groups that have been mobilizing and strategizing over how to react to the passage last year of Proposition 22 criticized a move announced this week by Albertsons, Safeway’s parent company, to eliminate hundreds of grocery delivery positions in California and replace them with gig workers from DoorDash.
More than four of every five San Franciscans receiving rental assistance from the city have been Latino or African American residents, the groups hit hardest by COVID-19 infections, public records show. Philanthropic donors have poured $31.4 million into the Give2SF Fund, $6.3 million of which is targeted at helping people cover housing costs, according to the fund’s most recent progress report. To date, 1,443 households have been allocated as much as $5.8 million in housing assistance, with the average grant being $4,000.
The latest pandemic order shutting down outdoor dining struck a devastating blow to restaurant owners and workers who have tried to adapt.
Maria Moreno with the Restaurant Opportunity Center United of the Bay in Oakland said the food service industry is reeling. “So many of the people in the industry are out of work right now, both undocumented and documented,” she said. “They’re just left behind right now. We’re talking like, half of the industry or more.”