Fixing California’s broken unemployment system — now

For nearly a year, as COVID-19 has decimated our economy, California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) has consistently failed millions of Californians who have been thrown into unemployment or seen their income drop dramatically.

My staff has worked around the clock to address the needs of desperate constituents, and I’ve shared stories with you before — people calling EDD multiple times per day and never reaching a representative, being promised a check that never comes, or even being outright hung up on — while they’re desperate to put food on the table or pay the rent.

This is not how government should work, Nick. Bureaucratic inefficiencies, antiquated technology, problematic contracts with EDD vendors, and poor planning going back decades brought the EDD to the place it is in today — and today, we took major action to hold EDD accountable.

Earlier today, eight of my Assembly colleagues and I introduced a major package of bills to alleviate the suffering of millions of Californians.  Will you add your name to support our work to reform EDD?  

My bill, AB 401, would ensure that every Californian can access EDD services and information in the language they speak — a crucial part of making EDD work for every Californian.  Right now, EDD’s resources for Californains with limited English proficiency are woefully scarce. The Governor’s own strike team, appointed to evaluate EDD, reported that unemployment insurance claimants who do not speak English face “insurmountable barriers” to receiving benefits. 

While EDD provides some forms and services in Spanish, those services are not nearly comprehensive enough to be effective, and there are virtually no resources for the 2.4 million Californians who speak a language other than Spanish or English. That’s just wrong. 

The paltry resources for non-native English speakers are embarrassing in a state as diverse as ours — and a matter of civil rights. Seven million Californians speak a language other than English, and they are all entitled to unemployment benefits.  Can you add your name here if you agree? 

EDD’s problems are wide-ranging and severe — so it will take hard work to make this department work for every Californian.  There’s no silver bullet, but we need to take real steps today to turn around the agency. Doing so is one of my top priorities this year — because every struggling Californian deserves unemployment benefits if they need them.  As we continue down the long road to economic recovery, we need to make sure everyone is taken care of.

Pushing hard together, I know we can get this done. 



PS — If you want to watch the virtual event where we introduced our bills to fix EDD, click here, and to read more about the entire package of legislation, click here.