SEIU 99 Members Applaud CA Assembly Appropriations Committee passage of AB2197: Summer Relief for School Workers Act

SEIU Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias issued the following statement on the passage of AB2197 to extend a basic unemployment safety net to dedicated school workers during the summer break:

“As school begins to wind down, a season of uncertainty and struggle begins for thousands of cafeteria workers, special education assistants, campus safety officers, bus drivers and other classified school workers who are the only seasonal employees in California who are denied access to our unemployment insurance benefits when work is not available. AB2197 (Garcia) will provide a safety net for workers who have chosen to commit their life’s work to helping educate our children but who must struggle to provide for their own families during the summer break.

Today’s passage of the bill by the Assembly Appropriations Committee marks a significant step forward toward ensuring economic stability for thousands of dedicated school workers who are currently shut out of unemployment insurance benefits in the summer months when work is not available.

Extending unemployment benefits is a win-win for California and California’s working families. According a report by the Economic Roundtable, including education workers in our employment safety net would bring an additional $187.3 million in economic activity and an extra $12.1 million in state and local tax revenue.

We must do more to ensure school jobs are good jobs by improving wages, increasing full time work, expanding summer school, and ensuring school workers have access to unemployment benefits when they need them. This legislation is a step forward toward ensuring that dedicated school workers can support their families while continuing to provide quality services to students during the school year.”

Assembly Bill 2197 would bring justice to the current unemployment insurance system by:

Recognizing the difference between the principal and the lunch lady.
Classified employees are among the lowest paid workers in our schools and most work less than eight hours a day. Yet, current law is based on the rationale that all school workers – from administrators to teachers to cafeteria workers – earn enough during the school year to cover the three month summer recess period.

Ensuring equity for all seasonal workers.
Classified school employees are the only seasonal workers prohibited by California law from receiving unemployment benefits. Sports stadium employees, farm workers, retail employees and other seasonal employees are eligible for unemployment benefits during their seasonal break periods.


SEIU Local 99 represents nearly 45,000 employees in public and non-public organizations in early education, child care, K-12, and community college levels. SEIU Local 99 members are: Teacher’s Assistants, Playground Workers, Special Education Assistants, Bus Drivers, Gardeners, Custodians, Cafeteria Workers, Maintenance Workers, Family Service Workers, Child Care Providers, and others working in schools, colleges, and administrative offices throughout Southern California.

Contact: Blanca Gallegos 213-500-9594

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