Unions should pay for strikes. Lawmakers should show leadership and reject SB 799.

Every so often, the California Legislature proves that it is indeed a model for the nation. Just not in a good way.

Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-Burbank, isn’t known for being a particularly thoughtful lawmaker. He’s introduced Senate Bill 799 to require the state’s already indebted and poorly-run unemployment insurance system to pay striking workers. This cynical political pandering — no doubt partly influenced by the fact that Portantino is running for Congress — is illogical on its face.

The unemployment insurance system is designed to help support workers out of work involuntarily as they look for work, not workers who choose not to work.

In a sane California, Portantino would know not to propose such an absurd piece of legislation. But even if he did, it would be laughed out of the Legislature. Alas, California has lost its way and the Legislature is actually entertaining this laughable piece of legislation.

On Thursday, the bill made it out of the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee, with the following Democratic Assemblymembrs voting in favor: Bryan, Calderon, Wendy Carrillo, Mike Fong, Friedman, Hart, Holden, Lowenthal, Papan, Pellerin, Weber, Wilson.

None of these are surprising and most have obvious political motives for wanting to appease Big Labor going into an election year.

Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, when she isn’t doing PR for the prison guard union, is running for Los Angeles City Council.

Laura Friedman is also running for Congress, against Portantino in fact.

Chris Holden, who actually thinks it’s a great idea to have a government-run fast-food council, is running for Los Angeles County supervisor.

And nepotism beneficiary Josh Lowenthal revealed to us very early on that Big Labor pulls his strings when he told us he supported exempting truckers from Assembly Bill 5 and then panicked on social media and said he didn’t say that.

They chose to advance SB 799, despite committee staff warning that, the unemployment insurance system is “not sustainable.” The anticipated fiscal effects of SB 799 are, according to the bill analysis, “[An] unknown amount, likely in the low millions to tens of millions of dollars.”

If that’s so, the state’s many bloated unions certainly have the money to cover striking costs. After all, they spend massive sums of money influencing elections every single year. If the state’s unions are so committed to “solidarity,” they can demonstrate it and support striking workers themselves.

The California Labor Federation, AFSCME California, California State Legislative Board of the SMART – Transportation Division, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council are co-sponsoring SB 799. Let them pay for the strikes.

There’s no rational reason the unemployment insurance system should be abused in the manner Anthony Portantino proposes.

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