AB 621: Summer Bridge Fund for School Workers 2017-06-20T00:50:22+00:00


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The fight for economic justice is on
Learn more
Speak out
Campaign updates

On February 14, SEIU Local 99 members and Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra introduced the Summer Bridge Fund for School Workers Bill (AB 621) to the California State Legislature. With this bill, over 284,000 school workers throughout California are saying “no more” to the cruel and unjust unemployment crisis too many of us face every summer.

If this bill becomes a law, here’s how it will work: During the ten months of the school year, classified school workers will be able to contribute one day of pay each month to the Summer Bridge Fund. In return, the state will provide a 2-to-1 match. That means for every dollar you pay into the fund, you will get an additional two dollars back. You will then be able to cash-out all the money during the summer break when work is not available.

This new bill is the result of all the hard work union members have put into fixing the summer unemployment crisis. Over the past several years, thousands of SEIU Local 99 members have spoken with legislators in Sacramento, signed petitions, and sent emails. Just last year, members pushed our bill (AB 2197) all the way to the Governor’s desk. Although the bill was vetoed by Governor Brown, our efforts have gone a long way to raise awareness of this crisis and gain the support of hundreds of legislators. Many legislators now agree that the system is broken and must be fixed.

We need to continue—and increase—the pressure if we want this AB 621 to pass. Take action and speak out against the cruel summer.

The Cruel Summer in Numbers

The median annual income for nearly 300,000 classified workers in 2012, which is well below self-sufficiency standards in California. Many workers also don’t receive health care benefits.
The percentage of all education workers who are the sole breadwinners in their household. In other words, the households of these workers are entirely dependent on their earnings for their support.
The percentage of education workers living in housing that is rent-burdened, overcrowded or both. Rent-burdened households pay more than 30 percent of their income for living expenses.
Source: Economic Roundtable Cruel Summer report

A Three-Pronged Solution

If passed, the Summer Bridge for School Workers Bill will serve as a basic economic safety net, intended to supplement other sources of income. It’s one part of a more comprehensive solution to the issue of summer unemployment. Recognizing that more needs to be done, SEIU Local 99 members have resolved to fight for increased funding for summer school and to offer more resources to help school workers get through the summer.

Summer Bridge Bill

Over the past four years, SEIU Local 99 has introduced several bills in the California legislature to address the issue of summer unemployment for school workers. The Summer Bridge for School Workers Bill (AB 621) is different than previous bills in that it creates a fund that 10-month workers can opt to contribute to. Contributions are matched 2-to-1 from the state. During the summer break, workers can access this money to help with living costs.

Expansion of Summer School

SEIU Local 99 members have resolved to push our local, state and federal leaders to increase funding for summer school. This would mean more students would be able to enroll in summer school, less “brain drain,” and year-round employment for more classified employees.

Relief Resources

While we continue our fight for long-term solutions to the summer unemployment crisis, we know there are immediate and urgent needs. We’ve gathered resources to help members get through tough times, including referrals for rent and utility assistance, food pantries, training opportunities and other help. View our resources.

Speak Out Against the Cruel Summer

“In our personal ambitions we are individualists. But in our seeking for economic and political progress as a nation, we all go up or else all go down as one people.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Get Notified of New Actions

It is your voice and your story that drives this bill through our State Legislature. Enter your name and contact information below to be notified of upcoming petitions and actions around AB 621.

*By providing your mobile phone number, you agree to receive occasional text messages from SEIU Local 99 about AB 621 and other matters. Local 99 will never charge you for text message alerts, but carrier message and data rates may apply. Text STOP to 787-753 to unsubscribe and HELP for more info.

Where’s the Bill?

Legislative bills move progressively in steps from one committee to another, to the assembly floor, to the senate floor, and lastly – to the Governor’s desk. This timeline plots out the key milestones the bill must go through before landing on the Governor’s desk. Follow the bill’s progression in more detail on the California Legislative Information website.

February 14
March 29
May 26
May 31
July 14
September 1
September 15
Gov’s Desk

February 14

Bill read for first time.

February 14

March 29

Heard in and passes the Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security on a 5-2 vote. Bill is referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Ayes: Bonta(D), Cervantes(D), Cooper(D), O’Donnell(D), Rodriguez(D)
Noes: Travis Allen(R), Brough(R)

March 29

May 26

Assembly Appropriations Committee passes AB 621 without amendments on a 12-5 vote.

Ayes: Bloom(D), Bocanegra(D), Bonta(D), Calderon(D), Friedman(D), Eduardo Garcia(D), Gonzalez Fletcher(D), Gray(D), McCarty(D), Muratsuchi(D), Quirk, Reyes(D)

Noes: Bigelow(R), Brough(R), Fong(R), Gallagher(R), Obernolte(R)

May 26

May 31

Assembly votes to pass the bill 53-21.

Ayes: Aguiar-Curry(D), Arambula(D), Berman(D), Bloom(D), Bocanegra(D), Bonta(D), Burke(D), Caballero(D), Calderon(D), Chau(D), Chiu(D), Chu(D), Cooley(D), Cooper(D), Dababneh(D), Daly(D), Frazier(D), Friedman(D), Cristina Garcia(D), Eduardo Garcia(D), Gipson(D), Gloria(D), Gomez(D), Gonzalez Fletcher(D), Gray(D), Grayson(D), Holden(D), Irwin(D), Jones-Sawyer(D), Kalra(D), Levine(D), Limón(D), Low(D), McCarty(D), Medina(D), Mullin(D), Muratsuchi(D), Nazarian(D), O’Donnell(D), Quirk(D), Quirk-Silva(D), Reyes(D), Ridley-Thomas(D), Rodriguez(D), Rubio(D), Salas(D), Santiago(D), Mark Stone(D), Thurmond(D), Ting(D), Weber(D), Wood(D), Rendon(D)

Noes: Acosta(R), Travis Allen(R), Baker(R), Bigelow(R), Brough(R), Chávez(R), Cunningham(R), Dahle(R), Flora(R), Fong(R), Gallagher(R), Harper(R), Kiley(R), Lackey(R), Maienschein(R), Mathis(R), Mayes(R), Obernolte(R), Patterson(R), Voepel(R), Waldron(R)

No Votes Recorded: Cervantes, Chen, Choi, Eggman, Melendez, Steinorth

May 31

July 14

Senate Rules Committee assigns AB 621 to Labor and Industrial Relations Committee.

July 14

September 1

Last day for it to be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee. The process is similar to its counterpart in the Assembly.

September 1

September 15

Last day for bill to be heard on the Senate Floor.

September 15

Gov’s Desk

If AB 621 passes all committees and the Assembly and Senate floors, the bill goes to the Governor’s desk.

The governor must sign or veto legislation within 12 days of the day of transmittal, or it becomes law without his signature. However, if the 12th day is a Sunday or a holiday, the governor has until the next working day to act. The governor has until September 30 to sign or veto legislation in his possession on the day the legislature adjourns (usually August 31), or it becomes law without being signed.

Gov’s Desk

Campaign Updates

Check back here often for the latest on AB 621

June 2017

May 2017

Local 99 Members Talk About Their Cruel Summer, Gain Support for AB 621 in Sacramento

May 5th, 2017|

Local 99 members meet with AB 621 Bill Author and Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra. In an effort to gain the support of legislators for AB 621, a group of members joined the SEIU Local [...]

March 2017

Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Votes Yes for AB 621

March 29th, 2017|

SEIU 99 Member Isabel Miranda speaks to the State Assembly Committee about the hardship school workers endure during the summer. Seated next to her is the author of the bill, Assembly Member Raul [...]

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Questions & Answers

Over the past four years, we have introduced bills in Sacramento to change the current law so that school employees could be eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits during the summer break. Unfortunately, those bills have not become law. During the process, however, we educated legislators about the problem. Many of them agreed that dedicated school workers should not have to suffer during the summer. Their main concern has been that the state cannot afford the cost of paying benefits out of the current unemployment insurance fund. That is why we’ve come up with a different solution.

The Summer Bridge for School Workers Bill creates a new fund that school workers and the state will pay into. If this bill becomes law, school workers will have the option to pay one day of pay each month for 10 months into the fund. In return, the state will provide a 2 to 1 match. That means for every dollar you pay into the fund, you will get an additional $2. At the end of the school year, you will have 30 days of pay. And, ultimately, it will be more pay than you would have received under unemployment insurance because unemployment benefits only pay a portion of your earnings.

Teacher salaries are anywhere from $45,000 to $80,000 a year, which makes a 12-month pay period tolerable for them. Many classified education workers work less than full-time and/or earn much lower wages, which, if stretched over 12 months, would mean a smaller paycheck and a year-round struggle to make ends meet.

You might be thinking: “Well then, let’s fight to increase wages.” As union members, we fight to increase not only our wages, but also work hours, staffing levels, training, and other issues that impact our livelihoods through contract negotiations. We’re also engaged in political efforts such as our legislative bill and in budget fights at the local, state and federal level to help ensure vital student programs—and good jobs—are funded.

A common misconception is that classified school workers are paying into the state’s unemployment insurance fund, but are denied access to unemployment benefits.

Actually, school workers do not pay into the state’s unemployment insurance fund. No money is deducted from their paychecks for this purpose. The reason they don’t pay into the fund is because—unlike other employees that do pay into the fund—school workers are currently excluded from accessing unemployment benefits. SEIU Local 99 members have fought to change that through legislation and AB 621 is part of the solution to addressing the summer unemployment issue.

Why are school workers excluded from access? School workers are not considered by the state and school district to be unemployed during the summer recess. This is the reason why school workers, under normal circumstances, are rejected when they try to apply for unemployment benefits.

This does not mean school workers are completely ineligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits. There are some ways a school worker could be eligible:

  • Permanent layoffs: School districts pay into the state’s School Employees Fund (SEF). This is a voluntary fund managed by the EDD that is used to cover unemployment insurance benefits to school workers in cases of permanent layoffs. Note that a school district’s participation in the SEF has no effect on the pay of school workers.
  • Cancelled summer assignment: If a school worker was offered a summer school assignment and that assignment was subsequently cancelled.
  • No reasonable assurance: If a school worker does not have reasonable assurance to return to the same or similar position at the end of the recess or did not receive proper notification of reasonable assurance. Learn more about EDD’s guidelines on Reasonable Assurance.

The Summer Bridge for School Workers Campaign website will always have the latest actions you can take to help move AB 621. Go to the Speak out Against the Cruel Summer section to see the most recent action.

As legislative bills move in upward steps from one committee to another, to the assembly floor, to the senate floor, and lastly – to the Governor’s desk, we must be actively involved throughout the life of the bill. This means we will constantly have new sets of actions and ways for members to get involved. Sign-up to get notified of new actions.

As a union member, you’re not alone. These are programs that assist union workers and low-income households.

AFL-CIO Member Assistance Program

The Member Assistance Program is for affiliated union members who need emergency assistance. Services offered include:

  • Debt counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Legal counseling
  • Alcohol and drug abuse counseling
  • Child Care
  • Welfare and medical assistance
  • Rent assistance*
  • Job Training
  • Assistance with social security benefits
  • Assistance with unemployment disability insurance
  • Assistance with Workers’ Compensation
  • Assistance during a work strike
  • Assistance during a natural disaster
  • Community Service Training

To see if you are eligible to receive these services, gather all documents related to your urgent circumstances (such as past due notices and/or eviction papers) and then contact the Member Resource Center at (213) 637-0296. Mention the AFL-CIO Member Assistance Program. Member Resource Center specialists should fill out the Union Member Referral Form on your behalf.

*To qualify for rent assistance, union members must have a 3-day “pay or quit” or eviction notice AND must have at least part of the rent. To qualify for assistance with a utility bill, union member must have a disconnection notice.

Union Plus Benefits

Union Plus offers current and retired labor union members and their families hardship help, financial counseling, scholarships and college planning tools, legal tips, and other assistance.

Visit unionplus.org to learn more.

Metro Rider Relief Transportation Program

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) offers up to $10 discounts on transit passes for low-income households. See if you qualify for a subsidy.

Visit the Rider Relief Program web page to learn more.

Have more questions?

Fill out this form to ask questions about AB 621. Please do not navigate away from this page until you see a confirmation that the message was sent.