Summer Bridge Fund AB 621 For School Workers
Classified school employees, a classification that includes custodians, cafeteria workers, paraprofessional teaching assistants, and the like, do the essential work that keeps our public schools up and running, keeping our campuses safe, clean and efficient. Despite the important and hard work that they contribute to our education system, many struggle to support their families, bringing home incomes that are often inadequate to pay for food, housing, and health care. In 2012, the median annual earnings for classified workers was only $20,700.
Each year, when schools let out for summer break, the classified employees who work to feed our students, clean our classrooms, and care for our students are left unemployed and without benefits to carry themselves through the summer. While certified school employees, such as administrators, teachers, librarians, and nurses earn middle class incomes that often last through summer breaks, classified employees do not. The poverty rate for classified workers employed in California public school districts is almost ten percent, a level higher than most other California industry sectors. Furthermore, they are unable to access unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, unlike all other workers that are employed on a periodic or seasonal basis.
This measure will establish a partially self-funded account that would allow classified employees to contribute a small portion of their paycheck, which will be matched 2:1 by the state, with a 10-day cap. The account would be run on a voluntary basis and would allow members to cash in their banked hours during periods of school recess. This program will not eradicate the unfair exclusion of these workers from accessing unemployment benefits, but it will create a temporary, cost-effective solution that allows for classified workers to support their families during recess periods.