Californians Can Get $300 Extra a Week in Unemployment Benefits — for Now ?

August 24, 2020 by  
Filed under Featured Articles, Front Page

Californians Can Get $300 Extra a Week in Unemployment Benefits — for Now 

Tanu Henry | California Black Media 

On July 25, the federal government’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program ended for most states, leaving millions of Californians without the extra cash many of them had been relying on for months to make ends meet. 

The $600 extra in federal stimulus pay was added cushion to the amount states already provide for their residents in unemployment insurance payments. Created for Americans who lost their jobs due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the program was authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) act, which was signed into federal law in March. 

Then, last week, the California Employment Development Department (EDD) announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved California’s application to participate in the federal Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program — funding that President Donald Trump authorized by memorandum Aug. 8. The LWA program provides $4.5 billion to California from which $300 extra in unemployment insurance benefits will be paid to individuals for three weeks. 

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have sought to maximize federally funded unemployment benefits to Californians. These benefits are critical for the basic security of families and communities and for our economy, which have been so devastated by the virus and its financial impacts,” said California Labor Secretary Julie A. Su after the EDD’s announcement. 

To qualify, unemployed Californians would have to already be eligible to receive at least $100 each week in unemployment benefits and they would have to provide proof that their job loss resulted from the coronavirus crisis. 

Although the U.S. House of Representatives has approved a fifth stimulus bill, the $3-trillion-dollar ”Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, the Senate has not brought it up for debate or vote. That bill includes an extension of the $600 federal supplement through Jan. 31, 2021. 

Senate Republicans have countered the $600-a-week proposal in the HEROES act with a $400 weekly payment in UI benefits. Democrats turned down that offer in negotiations. 

Some Republican Senators opposed to the $600 payment approved in the last stimulus package argued that it does not provide an incentive for workers who were laid off to look for work. 

“We cannot encourage people to make more money in unemployment than they do in employment,” Sen. Tim Scott (D-SC) pointed out. 

While the U.S. Congress decides what should be included in the next stimulus package, for now unemployed Californians can apply to get $300 a week extra in unemployment benefits dating back to Aug. 1. 

“As we modernize and strengthen the state’s unemployment insurance delivery system, we will continue to leverage any additional resources the federal government makes available,” Su said.

Former California Assemblymember Gwen Moore Passes Away

August 20, 2020 by  
Filed under Featured Articles, Front Page

 Tanu Henry |

Family members, friends, former colleagues and other loved ones across California were shocked to learn about the passing of former California Assemblymember Gwen Moore on Aug. 19. Her family has not yet announced the cause of her death.  Moore was first elected to the state legislature in 1978 and served for 16 years until 1994, representing California’s 49th district (redistricted and renumbered in 1990 as the 47th district), which currently includes Long Beach, Catalina Island and parts of Los Angeles and Orange counties.  While serving in the Assembly, Moore, introduced over 400 bills that were signed into law. She also served as Majority Whip and was a member of a number of influential committees, including the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee. 

 Moore was the architect and political force behind California General Order 156. It is a state supplier diversity program that has, over the years, strengthened and stabilized a number of California Black-owned, Women-owned and other minority-owned small businesses by helping them secure lucrative state contracts.  1n 1994, Moore resigned from the Assembly to run for Secretary of State. Although she didn’t win that race, Moore began to pursue other opportunities outside of elected office that influenced state policy and impacted the lives of people.  The founder and Chief Executive Officer of Los Angeles-based GeM Communications Group, Moore was a sought-after consultant and worked with several prominent clients across the state.  Her family, relatives, former colleagues and friends across California and the United States reached out to each other as the shocking news of her unexpected death was shared across her political, business and social circles.  Moore served on numerous boards.

Among them were the California State Bar Board of Trustees, the California Small Business Association board and the national board of the NAACP. She was also First Vice President of the California State Conference of the NAACP, Vice Chair of the California Utility Diversity Council and Chairwoman of the California Black Business Association. For her work in California and across the United States, Moore won numerous national and local awards, including honors from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Court Rules in Favor of California: Uber and Lyft Drivers are Employees

August 14, 2020 by  
Filed under Featured Articles, Front Page

Quinci LeGardye, California Black Media 

Statewide — On Aug. 10, a California Superior Court judge ruled that rideshare companies Uber and Lyft must change the classification of their drivers from independent contractors to employees.

The ruling was a major victory for California lawmakers in their yearlong struggle to enforce AB 5, the controversial worker classification bill that went into effect Jan. 1.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman ruled in favor of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s argument that Uber and Lyft are violating AB 5, which says workers can only be considered independent contractors if they perform duties outside the usual course of a company’s business.

“The court has weighed in and agreed: Uber and Lyft need to put a?stop to unlawful misclassification of their drivers while our litigation continues,”?said Becerra.?“While this fight still has a long way to go, we’re pushing ahead to make sure the people of California get the workplace protections they deserve. Our state and workers shouldn’t have to foot the bill when big businesses try to skip out on their responsibilities. We’re going to keep working to make sure Uber and Lyft play by the rules.”

Schulman paused the injunction for 10 days to give the companies a chance to appeal the decision. Both companies made statements Aug. 9 saying that they will appeal the ruling.

An Uber spokesperson said, “The vast majority of drivers want to work independently, and we’ve already made significant changes to our app to ensure that remains the case under California law. When over 3 million Californians are without a job, our elected leaders should be focused on creating work, not trying to shut down an entire industry during an economic depression.”

“Ultimately, we believe this issue will be decided by California voters and that they will side with drivers,” Lyft said, referring to Prop 22, the upcoming ballot measure. Voters will decide Nov. 3 if rideshare drivers in California can remain contractors or if they have to become W-2 employees;  

Becerra, along with the City Attorneys of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, filed their worker misclassification lawsuit against Uber and Lyft on May 5, followed by the motion for a preliminary injunction on June 24.

“This is a resounding victory for thousands of?Uber?and Lyft drivers who are working hard — and, in this pandemic, incurring risk every day — to provide for their families,”?said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer.??”Of course, our fight is not over and we will vigorously pursue this litigation until these workers have the permanent protection they?deserve.”??

“Misclassification hurts drivers and it puts the burden on taxpayers to pay for benefits that Uber and Lyft should be providing,”?said San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera.?“These companies have pocketed millions of dollars by leaving taxpayers to foot the bill. That’s unacceptable. During this global pandemic, it’s even more important for drivers to get access to protections like unemployment insurance. There is no rule that prevents these drivers from continuing to have all of the flexibility they currently enjoy. Being properly classified as an employee doesn’t change that.”

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