AB 621: Summer Bridge Fund for School Workers 2017-10-11T23:07:44+00:00

Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed AB621: The Summer Bridge for School Workers Bill. While we are all very disappointed by the Governor’s decision, this is not the end of our fight.

We won’t give up until we fix this broken system that forces dedicated school workers and their families to suffer in the summer. Even though this is not the outcome we wanted, we can be proud that we took this bill further than we ever have before. When we started to talk to legislators about the summer unemployment crisis five years ago, many did not even know there was a problem. When we first introduced a bill, it did not even make it out of the first steps in the legislative process.

This time, legislators in both the Assembly and the Senate voted to pass the bill with full funding. We got the Governor’s attention and, for the first time, SEIU Local 99 members met directly with the Governor’s office.

We also won the support of local school districts. The Boards of Lynwood, Compton, Hacienda La Puente, Santa Monica Malibu, and Los Angeles Unified all voted to support the Summer Bridge Bill.

So what’s next? We’re now going to use the momentum we have to turn up the heat in our contract negotiations. We all know that one of the reasons summers are so hard is because employers pay so little and hours are cut short. We are demanding more!

At LAUSD we’re getting ready to lead informational picket lines for fair wages, full benefits, and better staffing. Find out more here.

We’re also broadening our efforts to help SEIU Local 99 members get some immediate relief for themselves and their families. We’ll continue to offer help and resources, including support through our Local 99 Food Pantry. Learn more about assistance programs available to union members here.

Finally, let’s not forget that next year we will be electing a new governor in California. In the coming months we’ll be deciding on who we will support. Stay tuned for more information on how you can participate.  Together in our Union, we can make sure that the next Governor of California will sign legislation to end the cruel summer.

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. Read the full text of the bill.

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 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.

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

Justice is Due: Tell Governor Brown to End The Cruel Summer

On Tuesday, July 12, the California Senate passed AB 621, the bill that will end the cruel summer for over 284,000 classified school workers in California. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk!

The Governor is listening: Time to speak-up! On September 6th the office of the governor hosted a meeting between SEIU Local 99 member representatives and his Deputy Legislative Secretary. This is the first time we’ve ever met with the governor’s staff to discuss the summer unemployment issue! In the meeting, we were told Governor Brown agrees the cruel summer is an injustice and wants to do something to address it.

This means he’s listening and it also means this is the time to make our voices heard!

Send Jerry a Message

Tell Your Cruel Summer Story

Deeply personal stories have the power to move people. The people we need to move are legislators and the Governor who will be deciding whether or not to make AB  621 California law. It is your stories of unjust financial struggle during the summer recess—the sacrifices you have to make, the toll on yourself and your family—that legislators need to see and hear. They need to get past the numbers and fully understand the real human impact of their decisions.

Fill out this story form and tell us about your cruel summer.

Tell Your Story

Get Notified of New Actions

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

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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
June 19
July 12
September 1
September 12
Governor’s Desk

February 14

Bill read for first time.

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)

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 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

June 19

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

July 12

Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee passes the bill.

Ayes: Bradford (D), Atkins (D), Jackson (D), Mitchell (D)
Noes: Stone (R)

September 1

Senate Appropriations Committee passes the bill.

Ayes: Beall (D), Bradford (D), Hill (D), Lara (D), Wiener (D)

Noes: Bates (R), Nielsen (R)

Note the party line vote.

September 12

Senate votes to pass AB 621. Bill heads to Governor’s Desk.

Ayes: Allen, Atkins, Beall, Bradford, De León, Dodd, Galgiani, Glazer, Hernandez, Hertzberg, Hill, Hueso, Jackson, Lara, Leyva, McGuire, Mendoza, Mitchell, Monning, Newman, Pan, Portantino, Roth, Skinner, Stern, Wieckowski, Wiener

Noes: Anderson, Bates, Berryhill, Cannella, Fuller, Gaines, Moorlach, Morrell, Nguyen, Nielsen, Stone, Vidak, Wilk

Governor’s Desk

AB 621 has passed all committees and the Assembly and Senate floors and now is at the governor’s desk. The deadline for the governor to sign the bill is October 15.

If he does not sign or veto the bill before the deadline, it automatically becomes law without his signature. Also, the governor must sign or veto legislation in his possession by the day the legislature adjourns or it becomes law without being signed.

Campaign Updates

Check back here often for the latest on AB 621

July 2017

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 denied 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.

As the bill is currently written, there is no restriction on working outside of the district to receive matching funds. If you work for the school district during the Summer, you will be able to access the 10 days that you have banked. However, you will not be able to receive State matching funds.

No, if passed, AB 621 would not lead to a mandatory withholding on your paycheck in the same way that taxes like social security and medicare are currently withheld.

Think of AB 621 as an employer-matched 401k retirement account where you voluntarily contribute however much you choose. Each contribution you make is matched $2 for every $1.

You can read the full text of the bill here.

According to the bill text:

This bill, notwithstanding the existing law referenced above, commencing with the 2018–19 school year, would authorize certain classified employees of school districts that do not pay the annual or monthly salaries of their classified employees in 12 equal monthly payments to participate in the Classified School Employees Summer Furlough Fund. The bill would require school districts to deposit the amounts withheld from the paychecks of a participating classified employee in accordance with that employee’s choices in an account within its general fund, to be known as the Classified School Employees Summer Furlough Fund.

You can read the full text here. Note that while the bill is heard in the legislature, it is subject to amendments. Consider this information tentative until signed into law by the governor.

The details of how funds will be disbursed to individuals who have contributed to the fund still need to be worked out. If the bill passes and is signed by the Governor, we will then be able to sit with the State and define a disbursement method and schedule. Be sure to subscribe to email notifications for updates.

Visit the California Legislative Information website for the latest amendments and updates on the bill’s progression.

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?

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