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Striking workers entitled to UI benefits, per proposed bills

Striking workers entitled to UI benefits, per proposed bills – Two pieces of legislation, one in the House (HB 1893) and one in the Senate (SB 5777), would extend unemployment insurance (UI) benefits in both strike and lockout situations.

Currently, an individual is disqualified from UI benefits when the individual’s unemployment is:

  • due to a strike at the factory, establishment, or other premises where the individual is or was last employed; or
  • due to a lockout by the employer who is a member of a multi-employer bargaining unit and who has locked out the employees at the factory, establishment, or other premises where the individual is or was last employed after one member of the multi-employer bargaining unit has been struck by its employees as a result of the multi-employer bargaining process.

Under these bills, the provision that disqualifies employees in a multi-employer bargaining unit from UI benefits when the employees have been locked out following a strike against the employers in the bargaining unit is deleted – thus allowing locked out workers to receive benefits.

For striking workers, the disqualifications isn’t removed…but the disqualification for striking workers ends at the earlier of the Sunday following: the first day of the strike or at the end of the strike. The individual is subject to the one week waiting period.

Currently under the bills, contribution-paying employers’ experience rating accounts are not charged for UI benefits paid where the individual’s unemployment is due to a strike at the separating employer’s premises where the individual is or was last employed.

AGC is strongly opposed to the bills.  They have both received hearings in the respective House and Senate Labor Committees.

“AGC negotiates CBAs on behalf of many of its members with 5 construction trades,” AGC Chief Lobbyist told committee members.  “Committees of our member contractors negotiate these CBAs themselves, and while work stoppages occur, they are the exception, not the rule, as we believe the balanced give and take have resulted in fair contracts.  We have concerns that this bill would upset that balance.  Allowing UI benefits in strikes and lockouts would have the effect of prolonging any work stoppage, we believe.  It’s also important to note that there are strike benefit monies that are accumulated and used by labor unions.  It is unclear how those benefits would interplay with UI benefits, but again the combination of both will be an incentive to prolong strikes.  Also, very few states offer UI benefits in the case of a strike.  The California legislature recently passed such a bill, but it was vetoed by Governor Newsom.”

For more information, contact AGC Chief Lobbyist Jerry VanderWood.

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