Nearly half of all Americans say they couldn’t cover an unplanned $400 expense, and nearly two-thirds of American workers would struggle to cover a $1,000 crisis. This struggle is shared by half of the 40,000 private sector workers at San Francisco International Airport earn less than $50,000 annually. With the excessive cost of housing in the Bay Area, nearly one in three airport workers commute from outside of the nine Bay Area counties to work at SFO. The nature of airport work coupled with the Bay Area’s high cost of living creates additional financial challenges for these workers including long commutes, high transportation costs, irregular work schedules and work hours misaligned with dependent care schedules.
In collaboration with airport workers and their unions and SFO and their tenant employers, the San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) will design and pilot a Worker Fund. We will define how employees access the funds, the amount of funds accessible to each employee, and how to administer and evaluate the Fund. The Worker Fund would provide employees access to funds to manage financial hardships such as a car breakdown, a high winter heating bill, or a medical emergency. Access to this benefit in the workplace could help workers stabilize and make ends meet, maintain their jobs, and reduce reliance on predatory financial services that can be detrimental to their financial well-being and often trap borrowers in a cycle of debt.