Assembly Republicans Issue Request to Newsom for EDD Strike Teams

Sacramento– Today, the Assembly Republican Whip, Devon J. Mathis (R-Porterville), lead several Assembly Republicans in submitting a letter to Governor Newsom requesting additional resources to address the continued Employment Development Department (EDD) unemployment claims backlog.

“I am extremely disappointed in the ongoing issues with our EDD, and its inability to provide timely aid to our struggling families and communities,” said Mathis. “The Governor’s recent announcement of additional Unemployment Insurance (UI) liaisons for legislative offices is greatly appreciated.  However, this aid would have best served our communities months ago.  This is another example of the Governor failing to provide the necessary resources, in a timely fashion, to help Californians struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Yesterday, the EDD Legislative Affairs Branch notified the Legislature that it would be expanding the current liaison program to provide a full-time Unemployment Insurance (UI) liaison to each legislative office beginning Monday, June 14.  Offices will have access to their new liaison throughout the workday, five days a week. The goal of this effort is to help legislative offices resolve their older and incoming UI cases.

Below is an excerpt from the letter:

“We appreciate the recent announcement of expanding the current liaison program to provide full-time Unemployment Insurance liaisons for each legislative office.  These liaisons have been instrumental in providing our constituents with an avenue to address concerns or errors that may arise during the UI process.  However, this aid comes too late for too many of our constituents.  This pandemic, and the subsequent failures of your EDD, has been affecting our state for more than a year.  The relief offered by this program expansion would have best aided our state if it were implemented months ago.  Further, this expansion does little in the way of helping the general population who, for whatever reason, chose not to contact our offices with regard to their UI claim issues.”

“One potential solution for the continued UI backlog can be drawn from the state’s implementation of its Veterans Strike Force Teams,” said Mathis.  “In 2013, the state budgeted $3 million to hire 36 people to form a strike team purposed with addressing the extremely long Veteran Administration (VA) backlogs.  Prior to the strike teams, it could take up to 600 days for veterans to claim and receive compensation and benefits.  These strike teams were proven extremely effective at reducing the backlogs, helping our veterans gain eligibility to hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits.  I am recommending an immediate implementation of this model within EDD to provide rapid UI claim assistance to both draw down the backlogs, and prevent increases in the future.” 

As a result of the successes of the Veterans Strike Team, then Governor Brown made these strike team positions permanent in 2015. 

The letter concludes with the following:

“As we emerge from the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that the Legislature and the Executive branches must collaborate, in a bipartisan manner, to address many of the shortcomings that have plagued our state’s key agencies.  These problems cannot be left unaddressed until the next time our state is thrust into a pandemic.  We urge you to work with our caucus in addressing these issues.”