California taxpayers could soon be on the hook for paying unemployment benefits to striking Hollywood actors and writers.
The Democrat-controlled California Senate voted Thursday to grant unemployment benefits to workers who are on strike, passing the bill on a vote of 27-12. The state’s assembly passed the legislation earlier last week.
If Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signs SB799 into law, it would take effect on January 1.
Numerous unions are supporting the bill, including the Writers Guild of America and the actors’ guild, SAG-AFTRA.
Republicans condemned the legislation, saying it will force California taxpayers to subsidize labor activism.
“This is the most crazy thing I have ever seen,” State Sen. Brian Dahle (R) said according to a report in The Sacramento Bee. “This is a labor dispute, not an unemployment dispute… This is a horrible bill. This is a bad idea.”
Unemployment benefit recipients can receive up to $450 a week, according to California law.
The dual Hollywood strikes have brought TV and movie production around the country to a historic halt. Thousands of actors and writers are striking against the major studios and streamers, demanding increased compensation tied to streaming media as well as guarantees that they won’t be replaced by artificial intelligence technology.
But the studios have thus far refused to budge from their positions and appear to be waging a war of attrition against the strikers, many of whom are burning through their personal savings.
With no end in sight for the strikes, many workers are having trouble making ends meet and in a city as expensive as Los Angeles and are facing evictions. Some have even resorted to living in their cars.
The WGA is expected to resume negotiations with the studios in matter of days but it remains unclear when SAG-AFTRA will sit down again at the bargaining table.