Capitol Alert

‘Shame on them:’ Gavin Newsom reacts to word that unpaid federal workers can’t get unemployment

The Trump Administration has told California and seven other states that they cannot offer unemployment benefits to federal workers who aren’t getting a paycheck.

Gov. Gavin Newsom last week encouraged thousands of California workers furloughed due to the federal government shutdown to apply for unemployment insurance, vowing that “we’ll cover you – we have your back.”

But Wednesday, the California Employment Development Department was among those sent a memo from the Department of Labor which states that federal employees who are working without pay “are not unemployed and are, therefore, not eligible for UCFE” (Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees).

Newsom called it “about as extraordinary a letter I ever received” at an appearance at the Sacramento International Airport on Thursday.

The Democratic governor said that the administration is “threatening” the states by telling them they can’t legally provide the benefits. He encouraged affected federal workers in California to continue to apply while the state comes up with a response.

“Shame on them,” Newsom said. “From a moral perspective, there is no debate on this issue and we will blow back aggressively on the Department of Labor.”