Cruel Summer: Report shows how extending UI benefits to school workers will benefit all of CA

Economic Roundtable, a public policy research organization, release a reported titled Cruel Summer that highlights the benefits of extending Unemployment Insurance benefits to classified education workers. According to the report, many dedicated classified school workers would be lifted out of poverty and California would benefit from increased sales and tax revenue. You can read the full report by clicking here. Below are some key findings of the Cruel Summer report:

  •  More than 284,000 education workers do not receive income during summer months when school is out of session.
  •  Almost ten percent of school workers live in poverty, more than in most other California industry sectors. Many are women with children in their household. A third are sole breadwinners for their family. A quarter struggle to pay for rental housing.
  •  Expanding California’s state unemployment insurance program to cover classified school workers would provide an additional $153.1 million in income for them, stimulating economic activity that would create an additional $187.3 million in wealth for the state.
  •  Every dollar paid in unemployment insurance would generate $1.22 in economic stimulus for California.
  •  Extending UI benefits would create over 1,100 jobs in California.
  •  Public coffers would receive $12.1 million more in state and local tax revenue.

“Many classified employees fall into the category of ‘working poor,’” said Economic Roundtable Senior Researcher Patrick Burns. “Too often they rely on food stamps and other forms of public assistance. The current system falsely assumes a cafeteria worker is just as able to survive without a summer paycheck as a school principal. The State Legislature and Economic Development Department (EDD) can help address this problem by making classified workers eligible for unemployment insurance.”

Classified Education Workers from Across the State Joining the Fight for Summer Unemployment Benefits 

SEIU members including Esmeralda Torres, a Special Education Assistant at Los Angeles Unified and Lorraine Bowser, a Nutrition Specialist at San Francisco Unified joined Economic Roundtable during a telephone press conference where report author Patrick Burns discussed some of the report’s key findings.

“I haven’t given up on my dream to return to school,” said Esmeralda Torres, an SEIU Local 99 Member and Special Education Assistant at LAUSD. “I would go back now if we were more financially stable. But every summer we struggle. I wonder every year if I can afford to stay at the job I love. But education is my life. I can’t imagine another job … Every summer, I apply for summer school. Once in a while I’m lucky. If there’s no work for me with the school district, I try the local restaurants and shops. It’s always the same story. No one wants to hire me for such a short time.”

“I’m speaking out today to remind our communities that school workers are dedicated to our schools and students and that we should have access to this very basic safety net that all other workers have,” said Lorraine Bowser, a member of SEIU Local 1021 and a Nutrition Specialist with the San Francisco Unified School District.

Assembly Member Sebastian Ridley Thomas calls this s a fight for “fairness”

Assembly Member Sebastian Ridley Thomas who authored Assembly Bill 399: The Education Workers Summer Relief Act which, if passed, would extend unemployment benefits to classified school workers in the summer, said, “It’s imperative that we ensure education service workers are well regarded and respected. They work with our most precious asset, our children. This bill is a focused attempt for substance and fairness.”

“SEIU is proud to support Assembly Bill 399 which would extend unemployment benefits to classified school workers,” said Max Arias, Executive Director of SEIU Local 99. “We must ensure that school workers have access to unemployment benefits when they need them. This bill is one way we can enable school employees to make their way solidly into the middle class, instead of enduring summer after summer of financial crisis.”

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