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Defying Trump Administration, Calif. Offers Federal Workers Unemployment Benefits

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, right, hugs TSA employee Miguel Pagarigan at the Sacramento International Airport Thursday. "Because of the shutdown and being furloughed ... I had to put a 'For Sale' sign on my house on Sunday," Pagarigan said.
Rich Pedroncelli

California Gov. Gavin Newsom says the Trump administration has told states they can't offer unemployment benefits to federal employees who are required to report to work without pay during the government shutdown.

Newsom called a letter sent to states by the U.S. Department of Labor "jaw-dropping and extraordinary" as he met with TSA workers at the Sacramento International Airport Thursday afternoon. "So, the good news is, we're going to do it, and shame on them."

The governor explained that California will offer the workers unemployment coverage, despite the federal government telling the state it can't do so for workers still on the job. Newsom says he believes California is on strong legal footing.

Transportation Security Administration employee Miguel Pagarigan, who commutes about 40 miles from Vacaville, Calif. each day, said he's not sure how long he can afford to go without pay as the shutdown continues.

"Because of the shutdown and being furloughed — or basically, not being paid — I had to put a 'for sale' sign on my house on Sunday," Pagarigan said, beginning to cry as he spoke.

The Trump administration does not appear to be opposing unemployment benefits for federal workers who are staying home during the shutdown.

Newsom's appearance follows a protest by two dozen federal workers at the airport Wednesday.

Phil Miedema, a 68-year-old federal employee, said he was supposed to retire in December but the shutdown held up his paperwork.

"I'm not spending money," Miedema said. "In fact I was I was concerned just driving out here wasting the gas and have to pay for parking so I could have my voice heard. My lifestyle is just on total hold."

Miedema said he has one month's savings and after that he'll have to take out a loan to pay next month's bills.

Copyright 2020 CapRadio News. To see more, visit CapRadio News.

Ben Adler
Nadine Sebai
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