By Alianza Metropolitan News Editorial Board
How to rescue hundreds of thousands of jobs in California during the pandemic: Yes to Proposition 22
The impact of the pandemic has been devastating in California beyond the unfortunate loss of life, the aftermath of those who survive the coronavirus and the constant risk of contagion. It has also had a devastating impact on work.
At least 8,130,000 Californians have filed for unemployment so far this week in the pandemic, according to statistics from the federal Department of Labor.
New jobless claims from Californians were 236,000 this week, that’s 40,000 more than the week before.
Federal economic stimulus aid ran out in July and now hundreds of thousands are trying to find employment amid rising unemployment, many with the responsibility of providing what is necessary for their families, their children, their loved ones who by age or disability cannot work.
The pandemic has forced a part of Californians to work at home, but not all, and among those who do, they do not always earn to cover the exorbitant cost of housing and the rest of the monthly expenses.
Others leave urgently in search of complementary, part-time employment that allows them to return home to see the children in their virtual classes, to care for their elderly, or their sick.
It is a very difficult outlook for Californians. If we are 40 million residents and more than 8 are unemployed, it means that one in five is without work, but the majority of that 20 percent unemployed are fathers and mothers, among them single mothers.
To top it all, ethnic minority workers, especially Latinos and African Americans, have the highest rates for the impact of the California pandemic on both health and work.
In this disaster, Latinos have the opportunity to help us. One way is to support a bill, Proposition 22; I explain why:
Proposition 22 wants people who work through mobile apps like drivers who pick up passengers and those who deliver food orders to be independent contractors.
This means that hundreds of thousands of Californians can benefit when they are most needed, in the midst of this pandemic, by having employment with flexible hours to return home to see the children in their classes, the elderly, and to attend to any unforeseen in this coronavirus era.
It’s the kind of job that catapults small businesses, many owned by Latinos, both food businesses that were seriously impacted and those that need to travel with adequate protective measures.
According to a Berkeley study, Proposition 22 would save hundreds of thousands of application-based jobs in California as primary jobs or for supplemental income.
But in addition, Proposition 22 will see companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates and Instacart provide drivers with new benefits and economic protections.
Those benefits include income of at least one hundred and twenty percent of the minimum wage plus expenses; also health benefits at fifteen hours a week; insurance to cover medical costs and disability from work injuries; and strengthen protections against discrimination and harassment.
On top of those benefits, Proposition 22 would primarily benefit ethnic minority workers who have been hit hardest by unemployment in California.
You can help partially alleviate the devastating effects of the pandemic in our community by supporting Proposition 22 on the ballot, perhaps even you decide to be a driver and also benefit from a job where you decide when and where to work, and when to go home.