AB 237 was introduced on January 13, 2021, by Assembly Member Gray. This bill would create a new chapter in the Government Code, the “Public Employee Health Protection Act.” AB 237 would require an employer to continue paying its portion of an employee’s health insurance premium during the pendency of any strike. According to the language of the bill, “It is a matter of statewide concern that access to health and other medical care continue and that employers not suspend coverage or their contributions towards premiums for workers or their dependent family members during a strike.”
- Most public employers have rules that an employee needs to be on some form of paid status for a certain number of days in a month to receive the employer’s contribution towards any health insurance premiums. Thus, the timing and/or duration of a strike could cause an employee to forfeit the employer’s contribution in a given month. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with that. First, the timing and duration of a strike is fully within the control of the striking employees. If an employer requires an employee to be on pay status for at least 11 working days in a month, the union can limit a strike so that threshold is maintained.
- Second, you don’t get paid when you’re on strike. That is the point of a strike. You withhold your labor until the employer cries “uncle” and gives you what you want. You give up some compensation in the short term for longer term gains. This bill upends this balance by giving employees the benefits of working while on strike. That doesn’t seem to be good public policy to me.