SACRAMENTO, September 10, 2023 This week, California lawmakers in the State Assembly and State Senate will vote on legislation to provide unemployment insurance (UI) benefits to workers who have been on strike for at least two weeks. Senate Bill 799, authored by Senator Anthony Portantino (D-Burbank), Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), and Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), has gained momentum since Labor Day, amassing endorsements from elected officials across every level of government. Statewide leaders, members of Congress including all three candidates for U.S. Senate, California’s big city mayors, and local elected officials have joined the chorus of Democrats in the Assembly and Senate voicing their support for the bill. The Legislature has until September 14 to send the bill to the Governor’s desk. 

“It’s cruel to allow workers exercising their right to strike to go hungry, bankrupt, or lose their homes because they are temporarily out of work. This should frankly be a no-brainer for any lawmaker in California,” said Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, leader of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO and former State Assemblywoman who authored a similar law in 2019. “It’s time we end this unfair exclusion of striking workers from accessing unemployment insurance. They’ve already earned these benefits, SB 799 is a commonsense policy and the right thing to do.”

Extending UI benefits to striking workers is essential to help California’s economy in the midst of a strike wave. When workers on strike can make their rent payments on time, when they can afford to buy groceries for their families, that not only provides a critical safety-net to their families, it benefits small businesses and entire communities. Economists estimate that for every $1 spent on unemployment benefits, $2 worth of economic activity is generated, creating a “multiplier effect” that means vital assistance for depressed local economies. This modest benefit goes directly into grocery stores, restaurants, and childcare to preserve jobs and generate local revenue.

New York and New Jersey already allow striking workers to be eligible for UI after 14 days. The New York state statute was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and found not to be preempted by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), paving the way for California to pass similar legislation.

Endorsements for SB 799

Statewide Constitutional Officers

Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis: “It is unconscionable to ask hardworking Californians fighting for dignity and a living wage to run through their life savings while on strike. These workers are the economic engine of our state’s economy. We need to stand with them.”

State Treasurer Fiona Ma: “California’s workers are the force behind our state’s economic success and help generate the prosperity we all enjoy. They shouldn’t be punished when they advocate for their own best interest by seeking better pay, benefits, and working conditions. This bill removes a critical barrier of progress by supporting workers who chose to take a stand.”

Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara: “Workers are the backbone of our economy. As long as striking workers are ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits, we make it more difficult for workers to fight and advocate for better working conditions, higher wages, and improved benefits so that they can provide for their families and themselves. Senate Bill 799 will help move our economy forward and keep California as a leader in protecting workers’ rights, including the right to strike.”

State Superintendent of Instruction Tony Thurmond: “When workers have to strike for a fair contract, it impacts their entire family. No one should run out of food or face homelessness simply due to a strike. Unemployment Insurance benefits sustain families through hard times and striking workers should not be excluded. We want kids to have as much stability as possible outside of school so they can succeed when they get to school. This is a simple way for California to strengthen our safety net to benefit our families so I strongly support SB 799.”

Attorney General Rob Bonta

Members of Congress

Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi: “Together we don’t agonize — we organize and unionize for workers who deserve decency and dignity on the job and unemployment benefits when they strike. We need SB 799.”

Rep. Barbara Lee, candidate for U.S. Senate: “From hotel workers to nurses to screenwriters and actors, tens of thousands of Californians have bravely gone on strike this summer in a historic demonstration of solidarity for fair wages and conditions for all,” said. “I support SB 799 to ensure striking workers in California qualify for unemployment insurance. Nobody should go into debt or lose their home because they’re exercising their right to strike.”

Rep. Katie Porter, candidate for U.S. Senate: “Waiting workers out is a cruel but all too common tactic corporate bosses use to get their way during a strike. SB 799 puts a wrench in these kinds of schemes by making it possible for workers to keep paying for their basic needs while on strike. I urge the state legislature to respect the right to strike and side with workers, not greedy corporations.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, candidate for U.S. Senate: “Workers deserve to make their voices heard on the picket line fighting for better wages and benefits, without putting their families in financial jeopardy. Unfortunately, many striking workers can’t afford to go without pay, or have to dip into their savings to pay their bills and keep food on the table for their families — big corporations shouldn’t be able to wait out striking workers to avoid paying workers what they’re worth. That’s why it’s critical that the California legislature pass SB 799, to ensure workers can receive unemployment insurance benefits.”

Rep. Robert Garcia: “Proud to join California Labor this Labor Day to support SB 799. Workers who strike to improve conditions for all face enormous risk and they need basic protections. Let’s support this bill to ensure unemployment benefits for these workers.”

Rep. Judy Chu

Rep. John Garamendi

Rep. Jimmy Gomez

Rep. Ted Lieu

Rep. Kevin Mullin

Rep. Linda Sanchez

Rep. Norma Torres

Rep. Maxine Waters

Los Angeles

Mayor of Los Angeles Karen Bass 

Mayor of Burbank Konstantine Anthony

Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis

Los Angeles City Councilmember Hugo Soto Martinez

Los Angeles City Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez

Los Angeles City Councilmember Imelda Padilla

San Diego

Mayor of San Diego Todd Gloria: “Striking workers deserve access to unemployment benefits.

California Labor priority bill SB 799 will do just that. I support this commonsense legislation and I hope the California Legislature will too.”

Alameda County

Mayor of Oakland Sheng Thao: “Striking is a basic workers right and no one should face losing their home or going bankrupt for standing up for their rights. UI benefits for striking workers will help workers and families and will put money directly into the local businesses that depend on them. This is why I’m a strong supporter of  SB 799 — our workers earned these benefits.”

Mayor of Emeryville John Bauters: “Workers don’t take the decision to go on strike lightly, but they risk it all for a better future for their families. SB 799 provides striking workers unemployment benefits, allowing them to buy groceries & basic necessities to survive.”

Alameda City Councilmember Malia Vella

Berkeley City Councilmember Terry Taplin

Emeryville City Councilmember Courtney Welsh

Emeryville Councilmember Kalimah Priforce

Oakland City Councilmember Nikki Bas

Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan


Mayor of Sacramento Darrell Steinberg

Mayor of West Sacramento Martha Guerrero

Sacramento Councilmember Katie Valenzuela

Sacramento Councilmember Karina Talamantes

Sacramento Councilmember Eric Guerra 

Rancho Cordova Councilmember Garrett Gatewood

SMUD Board Member Rosanna Herber

SMUD Board Member Gregg Fishman

Former State Senator Richard Pan 

Former Sacramento Councilmember Steve Hansen

San Francisco

Mayor of San Francisco London Breed

San Francisco County Supervisor Connie Chan

San Francisco County Supervisor Aaron Peskin

San Francisco County Supervisor Dean Preston

San Francisco County Supervisor Hillary Ronen

San Francisco County Supervisor Ahsha Safai

San Francisco County Supervisor Catherine Stefani

San Francisco County Supervisor Shamann Walton

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins

South Bay

Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez

San Mateo

Mayor of Belmont Julia Mates

Vice Mayor of South San Francisco Mark Nagales

San Mateo County Supervisor Ray Mueller

South San Francisco City Councilmember James Coleman

Napa-Solano/North Bay Counties

Rohnert Park City Councilmember Jackie Elward

Vallejo City Councilmember Rozzana Verder-Aliga

Orange County

Costa Mesa City Councilmember Manuel Chavez

The California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO represents over 1,200 affiliated unions in California with over 2.2 million union members in trucking, retail, hospitality, janitorial, construction, health care, local and state government, education, arts and entertainment, warehousing and logistics, manufacturing, and a variety of other sectors.