The Garden State just got a bit more hospitable to workers.
That’s what is envisioned after Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law a bill which will close certain loopholes that prevented workers who were participating in labor disputes from receiving unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.
“Unemployment insurance benefits should be a universal right for individuals who have recently lost their jobs, are unable to find work, or are currently in the middle of a labor dispute,” said Murphy in a statement announcing the signing.
Specifics of the Bill
The bill (A-4772/S-3215) was designed to permit UI benefits to be distributed to workers during an employer lockout even if a strike did not immediately precede the lockout.
It would also decrease the timeframe to 14 days from 30 days following a strike that UI benefits are disqualified, while allowing for benefits to be paid immediately regardless of timeline if replacement workers are hired in the interim.
The legislation clarifies that there is no disqualification if an issue in the labor dispute is the failure of the employer to comply with an agreement between the parties.
“This administration will continue to stand up for the rights of workers who are the backbone of our state’s economy,” added Murphy. “These benefits are crucial to allow individuals going through this process the support they need to continue to take care of themselves and their families during difficult times.”
State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-36): “This will be beneficial to employees and employers alike. It ensures the ability of workers involved in labor disputes to collect unemployment benefits without unfair delays and eliminates unreasonable financial penalties for businesses that act in good faith. These modifications will bring more fairness and clarity to the original law.”
Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli (D-15): “Often what will happen is that an employer will simply ‘wait out’ striking workers. Those workers are not earning a paycheck during that strike and therefore can only sustain their efforts for a limited amount of time. This bill will encourage an employer to come to the bargaining table sooner and that’s beneficial for all sides.”
Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-14): “Union workers who face an employer lockout or take part in a strike should not be penalized financially. I’m pleased this law will close loopholes that prevented access to unemployment benefits, creating undue hardship on workers.”
Assemblyman Joseph Egan (D-17): “Workers who go out on strike or are locked out shouldn’t have to fear that they will be unable to pay their bills. This law enables workers to collect unemployment benefits owed to them more quickly, giving them breathing room during labor disputes.”