Not long ago, my colleagues in The New York Times’s Food section reached out to essential workers, to see how they were getting through the pandemic. They heard from every link of the nation’s food supply.
One response came from Eric Hodge, a commercial fisherman in Ventura. On the third week of March, he said, he got back from a black-cod trip and learned that the wholesaler who bought 65 percent of his fish was no longer biting.
“Within 48 hours, I realized two-thirds of my market had just collapsed,” he told the reporter, Mahira Rivers. I won’t spoil the rest of his tale.
But he and his children are far from the only Californians struggling with hard financial choices, even with the $900 billion stimulus package Congress passed in December. Since February, before the pandemic hit, unemployment has more than doubled to 9.3 percent.
On Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed his own $4.5 billion stimulus package as part of state budget negotiations. The biggest line item is $1.5 billion to accelerate the state’s shift to clean cars by funding more charging stations and rebates for clean-car buyers.
But Mr. Newsom also will ask the Legislature to fund a pandemic aid program to help struggling companies with grants of up to $25,000, including museums, galleries and other cultural enterprises, and tax credits to businesses that relocate to or expand in California. He also proposes fee waivers for bars, restaurants, barbershops, manicurists and other hard-hit businesses.
Hero Pay vs. Layoffs
In Los Angeles, the county Board of Supervisors moved Tuesday to consider a $5 hourly “hero pay” bump for supermarket and retail drugstore employees. The City of Los Angeles and Long Beach are considering similar measures. The head of the California Grocers’ Association called the measure “unprecedented” and “irresponsible.”
In a more familiar kind of workplace development, the Albertsons supermarket company, which includes Vons and Pavilions, confirmed it would lay off its in-house supermarket delivery drivers and outsource their work to the gig delivery company DoorDash. The national deal follows the November passage of a ballot measure that exempted gig employers from California’s far-reaching new labor law.
Fraud vs. Frozen Benefits
Californians have been flooding social media with complaints that unemployment checks have been suspended. The issue: technological and oversight failures that led to breathtaking pandemic unemployment insurance fraud.
Mr. Newsom last month appointed a new director of the state Employment Development Department, which handles unemployment. But “every month there’s a new E.D.D. fiasco,” State Senator Scott Wiener told The San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday, adding that he had received at least 50 complaints in recent days from constituents whose accounts were frozen despite legitimate claims.
But The Los Angeles Times, also on Tuesday, was reporting a…
Go to the news source: California Officials Consider State Stimulus and ‘Hero Pay’