California’s powerful labor unions want to force employers to pay their workers to strike against them.

That’s the gist of new legislation sponsored by the California Labor Federation and its unabashedly anti-business boss, Lorena Gonzalez. It would make workers who choose to go on strike eligible for unemployment benefits – turning the entire idea of unemployment insurance on its head.

The particular vessel for this brute force attack on employers is Senator Anthony Portantino, who is pulling a “gut-and-amend” on one of his existing bills, SB 799. Gut-and-amend means to strip out the language of an existing bill – regardless of how far along it is in the legislative process – and substitute legislative language for an entirely different policy matter.

SB 799 is a bill about inmate visitation that will now become a bill to turn unemployment insurance into a taxpayer-funded strike fund.

California Federation of Labor chief Lorena Gonzalez quickly claimed credit for the bill:

Unemployment insurance is funded by a tax paid by employers on the first $7,000 in wages paid to an employee. It is intended as a safety net for those who are laid off. People who quit their jobs – or people who are fired for cause – cannot claim unemployment.

Lorena Gonzalez’s scheme, if passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, would literally turn unemployment insurance into a taxpayer-funded strike fund.

The state Employment Development Department, which administer unemployment insurance, states that the program’s “intent is partly to compensate a worker for loss of wages while unemployed.” [Emphasis added.]

Strikers aren’t unemployed. They are choosing not to go to work. Many Local 11 members strike for a few days, go back to work, go back on strike. And that is their choice. To force employers to pay for their workers to strike against them is an assault on justice and fair. It’s tyrannical.

The state’s unemployment insurance trust fund is teetering on insolvency. If the unions succeed in turning

The writers and hotel workers strikes are dragging out much longer than their union leaders imagined. UNITE-HERE Local 11’s strike funds are becoming depleted. The stockpiles of pre-paid credit cards they hand out to picketing members must be running low. Reports from inside the hotel industry indicate as many as 25-30% of Local 11 members are crossing the picket lines.

SB 799 is a government bailout of failing strikes.

How will Orange County’s state legislators vote when SB 799 comes before them? Will they vote “aye” or “nay” or avoid accountability altogether by voting “not present”?

It’s a safe bet that OC’s Republican legislators will vote against SB 799. The real question is what will Senators Dave Min and Josh Newman, and Assemblymembers Cottie Norris-Petrie, Sharon Quirk-Silva and Avelino Valencia do? They strive to portray themselves as pro-business moderates. But will they stand up for business and against the outrageous demands of an imperious union boss?

To put it in Game of Thrones terms, House Gonzalez has called the banners. Will OC’s Democrat legislators answer? Will they vote to turn the unemployment trust fund into a piggy bank for union bosses? Or will they protect the integrity of state unemployment insurance, protect businesses large and small – they all pay unemployment taxes – from having their tax dollars used against them?

Min, Newman, Norris-Petrie, Quirk-Silva and Valencia should vote “no.” Not absent. Don’t skip the vote. This is where the rhetorical rubber meets the road.