N.J. may allow striking workers to tap into unemployment fund

A bill advanced by a New Jersey Senate committee would allow striking workers to collect unemployment insurance benefits during a labor dispute. New York

A bill advanced by a New Jersey Senate committee would allow striking workers to collect unemployment insurance benefits during a labor dispute. New York

A bill advanced by a New Jersey Senate committee would allow striking workers to collect unemployment insurance benefits during a labor dispute.

The legislation would bring some financial relief to the thousands of Verizon workers in New Jersey who’ve been on strike since April 13, said Eric Richard with the state AFL-CIO.

“Go on that line and talk to these folks about how their families are moving forward without health care,” he said Tuesday during a committee hearing. “Find out how they’re moving forward being unable to pay their mortgages.”

Seth Hahn is legislative director for the Communications Workers of America, a union that represents a thousand Verizon call center workers in New Jersey.

“Every biweekly pay period, they put into the unemployment insurance fund,” said Seth Hahn, legislative director for the Communications Workers of America, a union that represents a thousand Verizon call center workers in New Jersey. “It is exactly for time like these when they have been pushed by their employer, that they need it.”

Michael Egenton with the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce said allowing strikers to tap into the unemployment insurance fund would be a concern for the business community.

“We now have solvency back into the UI fund. So what does that do now to the UI fund? How long can a worker be out for and collect?” he said. “It really changes the rules of engagement.”

The measure faces an uncertain future. No version of it has been introduced in the Assembly.

Similar laws are already in effect in New York and Alaska.

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