With a series of temporary protections that helped Californians get through the first few months of the pandemic set to expire soon, Gov. Gavin Newsom hinted he will today extend some programs in another flex of executive power.
Additional federal unemployment benefits of $600 per week end July 31, foreshadowing a wave of evictions and what Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf predicted will be a “homelessness Armageddon.” Meanwhile, many workers are resisting returning to work for fear they aren’t adequately protected against the virus, even as unemployment continues to rise.
- Newsom on Wednesday: There’s “growing recognition … that we are walking towards the edge of a cliff.”
Negotiating with unions will play a key role. Workers backed by powerful labor groups are calling for stricter safety measures as they point to outbreaks that have ravaged nursing homes, hospitals, grocery stores and warehouses. The United Farm Workers union wants Attorney General Xavier Becerra to investigate the Primex Farms pistachio plant in the San Joaquin Valley, where nearly 25% of workers tested positive for coronavirus and one died.
- Laura Stock, director of UC Berkeley’s Labor Occupational Health Program: “Workers who never left the workplace were often not sufficiently protected.”
But the prospect of further executive action isn’t likely to please everyone. Assemblymember Kevin Kiley, a Rocklin Republican, has compiled a 123-page document of all the laws Newsom has changed via executive order during the pandemic, calling it a “monarchy.”
And landlords and businesses are facing financial cliffs of their own.
- Daniel Yukelson, executive director of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles: “Without an end in sight or any sort of financial relief whatsoever being offered to the city’s housing providers, many will be forced into foreclosure.”