A California EDD office in 2018.

As California Grapples With Unemployment Fraud, Jobless Claimants Struggle

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.

Many members of San Francisco's Latino community work in restaurants, such as this Mission District taqueria, and other service industry jobs, and have suffered lost income due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

81% of Residents Receiving Housing Help From S.F. Are Black or Latino

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 temporary ban on outdoor dining is dealing another financial blow to workers and owners. It means the Mission District's Atlas Cafe, pictured here, is just one of many restaurants that can't use newly constructed parklets to serve customers.

Restaurant Workers Out of Options as Work and Benefits Dry Up During Lockdown

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.”

Union organizers and mail workers rally to support the postal service at Fox Plaza in San Francisco on Nov. 17, 2020

Mail Workers Renew Calls for Critical Postal Service Funding

Postal workers nationwide rallied on Tuesday to demand Congress approve $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service to ensure its continued operation, and reverse workflow changes made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. In San Francisco, members of the American Postal Workers Union San Francisco Local #2 gathered in the rain in front of the Fox Plaza post office to distribute leaflets, saying the service was still in dire need of congressional aid and could shut down next year without it.

Registered nurse and union activist Jennifer Esten protests understaffing at Zuckerberg S.F. General Hospital

Nurses in S.F. Department of Health Demand Thousands of Hours in Overtime Pay

During the pandemic, nurses have been given a lot of praise for the vital, frontline work they do, but some nurses working for San Francisco’s Department of Public Health would like to be paid the overtime they have put in. In a lawsuit against the city, several nurses claim that due to chronic understaffing, the public health department is forcing them to work overtime to cover the gap. They are demanding thousands of hours in back pay.

The CEO of Gap, a company headquartered in San Francisco, makes 3,566 times what the company’s median worker makes, according to reporting in Recode. Measure L would target companies with high executive pay with a business tax.

Tax Measure Seeks to Rein in CEO Compensation

Proposition L, a tax measure on the November ballot, is intended to give businesses incentive to change their pay structure to bring executive compensation more in line with workers’. Revenue from the measure, if passed, is expected to range from $60 million to $140 million a year.

Cindy Datangel prepares to depart with the American Postal Workers Union car caravan in San Francisco. Laura Wenus / Public Press

Mail Workers Struggle on Without Federal Stimulus as Election Approaches

With an infusion of $25 billion to help the postal service weather the coronavirus pandemic still in limbo awaiting consideration by the Senate, local mail workers continue to work extended hours under difficult conditions to beat back delays in mail delivery. Carriers and other mail workers are also grappling with absences as coronavirus spreads to and among staff.

Photo by Pixnio user Bicanski. Public domain image.

Labor Advocates Say Inspector Shortage Jeopardizes Workplace Coronavirus Safety

As workers head back to their jobs, they are navigating the new workplace safety reality of operating in a global pandemic. Labor organizers say the protections against catching the novel coronavirus on the job are insufficient at many workplaces, and lack enforcement. They allege that California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA, is critically short-staffed. Erika Monterroza, a spokesperson for Cal/OSHA, said in an email the staff shortage doesn’t keep the agency from meeting its mandate. “We believe that this agency is not doing what it should be doing.