California could prioritize age above all for COVID vaccine. Essential workers are upset

José Padilla spent the last few months calling on California to prioritize vaccinating its farmworkers, who have to go to the field nearly every day and often can’t practice social distancing. Last month, he and other advocates for farmworkers got a win when California listed essential workers such as farmworkers, teachers and grocery store clerks to be vaccinated right after those in the healthcare industry. But as California, like much of the nation, redirects its focus to vaccinating residents 65 and older, Padilla wonders whether essential workers will be left behind.

Some California jobs lost to COVID will never be the same. Here’s what experts say

A woman in South Lake Tahoe who had worked as a sales and marketing director at a hotel. A Modesto woman who worked selling motor homes and trailers. A woman in Sacramento who lost her three-decade job as a server at the Sacramento International Airport. Those are just a few of the 1.4 million Californians who have lost their jobs since the coronavirus pandemic reached the state in February. Hundreds of thousands remain out of work. When they come back to work, they could see a different job market.

Why the new COVID-19 stimulus means California workers won’t have to repay unemployment aid

Many of the hundreds of thousands of California gig workers and independent contractors won’t have to repay part of their unemployment aid, under a provision in the new COVID-19 stimulus package signed by President Donald Trump. The bill allows California and other states to waive their effort to collect overpaid Pandemic Unemployment Assistance payments from their recipients, if a repayment “would be contrary to equity and good conscience.”

California workers appear likely to lose two weeks of paid sick leave as COVID-19 surges

Even as California sets new records for COVID-19 cases, millions of workers in the state stand to lose two weeks of paid sick leave and additional weeks of paid family leave by the end of the year. Congress has yet to extend those leave programs past Dec. 31, and lawmakers remain deadlocked over any compromise. California earlier this year created its own sick leave program, but it is written in a way that it will expire at the same time the federal programs end.

Why California says it overpaid some workers’ unemployment aid and wants the money back

Nancy Travis, 71, couldn’t risk driving for Uber and Lyft during the coronavirus pandemic. So, she applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal unemployment insurance program for self-employed, independent contractors and gig workers like her. But after more than half a year of receiving the aid — $267 a week — Travis may have to pay back $4,000 to the state’s Employment Development Department, which runs the program in California.

Retail workers, low-wage heroes of the pandemic, brace for Black Friday crowds during COVID-19 surge

Upstairs at the 4th Avenue Target in Sacramento, there are at least 15 pallets filled exclusively with flat-screen TVs. To at least one worker, it’s a troubling sign of a potentially chaotic Black Friday this year. “That means everyone who wants those TVs all are going to swarm the store to have them,” said the employee, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. “I was so mad,” she continued. “I feel like plowing through them. Had they toppled, they would go like dominoes, and what are they going to do, fire me?”

New California workplace rules for COVID-19 are out. Some businesses aren’t happy

California has become one of the first states in the country to have emergency workplace rules to protect employees from COVID-19 exposure. During a major outbreak, defined as 20 or more cases within a 14-day period, employers will be required to provide workers with testing at least twice a week. The rules also require that workers quarantining due to an exposure be paid. Members of the standards board of Cal-OSHA voted unanimously to approve the regulations on Thursday.

California’s food banks will get a shake-up on Jan. 1. Will it interrupt supply?

Come Jan. 1, many of California’s food banks will get food distributed from a new organization, which promises cost savings that could result in more supplies for the facilities, more frequent delivery and a “produce mobile” with fresh fruits and vegetables. But Sacramento-based California Emergency Foodlink, the current entity in charge of distributing the food, is asking the federal government to stop the change. The state used a flawed and biased method to pick the new organization, a Foodlink representative said in his October letter to the federal government.

California’s gig worker initiative blew a giant hole in its landmark labor law. What’s left?

California’s landmark labor law, Assembly Bill 5, isn’t going away anytime soon. Despite the passage of Proposition 22, which exempts hundreds of thousands of gig drivers from the act that regulates who gets to be an independent contractor, supporters say they will protect what’s left. “AB 5 still stands, and we’ll ensure it’s still defended by the state,” said Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, who chairs the Committee on Labor and Employment.

‘How long can this last?’: California gig workers struggle to pay bills during COVID-19

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Uber and Lyft driver Erica Mighetto waited, waited and waited for a ding on her app taking her to her next ride. She sat in her car in the Bay Area for hours, trying for whatever she could get. When she was starting out more than three years ago, she said she could have earned $1,200 to $1,500 in a weekend working in the Bay Area. Her pay kept dropping, she said. But during the pandemic, her pay plummeted to almost nothing.

Still undecided about California’s gig economy law? Five things to know about Prop. 22

Should gig workers for companies such as Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart be paid as independent contractors or employees of the tech giants? For weeks, Californians have been bombarded with advertisements for Proposition 22, which would allow gig economy drivers to continue working as independent contractors while providing some of the benefits given to employees. The initiative has become the most expensive ballot measure in the state’s history. Companies such as Uber and Lyft have spent more than $180 million for the measure, while labor unions have spent more than $10 million fighting against them.

Here’s what new California workplace laws mean for pay, wage theft and family leave

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed several new laws last month aimed at providing workers more rights and protections to help them navigate the coronavirus pandemic, rejecting appeals from business interests who said the bills will burden employers. Among the new laws are measures that require smaller employers to offer paid family leave and compel businesses to provide more demographic information that could help the state identify pay disparities that suppress wages for women and people of color.

Supreme Court nominee could reshape California’s gig economy law and unions. Here’s how

Gig workers already lost once under Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. In her August opinion for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Barrett ruled against Grubhub food delivery drivers who proposed a class action claim against the company demanding minimum wage and overtime pay. Instead, she said the drivers must go through arbitration, which tends to drive more favorable results for employers.
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