Are You A Striking Union Worker In The USA?

The unemployment ratio in the USA has been showing a deteriorating nature but at a very slow pace. Despite sinking oil prices and a rally on the wall street, the unemployment rate in the USA has sunk below 5% for the first time in the past eight years. “The United States Of America right now has the strongest, most durable economy in the world”, says Obama, the president. With the longest streak of the private sector and more than 14 million new jobs being introduced, the economy is the strongest over the past two years.

Demand for Labor Rights

Yet, if you are one among the 4.9% of the unemployed bunch or a striking union worker, here’s everything that you would want to know when you apply for the unemployment benefits; the requirements and eligibility that would qualify you for the same.

Can You Collect Unemployment Benefits?

Unemployment benefits are social benefit programs that are paid by the government to eligible workers between 40-50% of their previous salary. The fund paid by the government is contributed largely by the state and federal payroll taxes levied against employees to workers who are unemployed due to no fault of their own.

Unemployment Benefits For Striking Workers In USA

In most of the places across the globe, striking workers are not eligible to collect benefits because the government considers them to have left their job voluntarily. A bill emerged during a six-week strike involving Verizon workers, who walked off the job in protest of telecommunications giant’s contract demands. About 4,600 of the 40,000 East Coast employees were on strike work in New Jersey.

Seth Han, a legislative director for the communications workers of America, a union that represents a thousand Verizon call center workers in New Jersey, proposed to pass the bill.

Under this bill approved by the State Senate Labor Committee, workers can access unemployment insurance in labor disputes when an employer violates the terms of an employment contract or the collective bargaining agreement. And striking workers are eligible after a 30-days waiting program if the dispute isn’t promoted by an employer’s failure to comply with contract terms.

Verizon spokesman, Ray mcConville said that the employees on strike do have an option of seeking coverage under Cobra (the federal law that allows people to keep paying their health insurance they lost through work)

Are You Eligible For UI Benefits?

You are eligible for the UI benefits if you fall into any of the following categories-

  • If you are locked out by your employee or laid off due to lack of work because of the strike.
  • If you quit the job during the labor disputes, then you can be eligible to receive the unemployment benefits.
  • If you are fired during the labor disputes.
  • If you are replaced during the labor disputes.
  • If you are a member of a union that is currently on strike and you do not participate in the strike, you may still collect benefits, if you happen to lose your job during the strike. If you are barred from collecting unemployment benefits during the strike, you will become eligible once the work stoppage ends or if your unemployment is not related to the strike.
  • If there is a time lag between when the strike ends and when the employer resumes work, you are eligible to collect unemployment benefits during this period. This generally depends on the nature of the delay.

Factors Affecting Eligibility

The following factors affect the eligibility of an unemployed striking worker-

  • If the unemployed person has made an unconditional offer to return to work after a certain period, then he will not be eligible to receive the unemployment compensation.
  • If an employer is providing any sort of financial aid to the striking union workers, then this makes them ineligible for the same.
  • If an employee is willing to return to the workplace as per the employer’s terms, then he/she become unqualified to receive the benefits.
State To State Difference In The Unemployment Benefits

The fingerprint of no two individuals are the same, they say. Similarly, no two states in the USA provide similar unemployment benefits to the striking workers.

  • In the state of New York, an unemployed striking worker cannot claim the benefits until the union has striked for a duration of 49 days. A week later after filing your application, you will be able to collect your first check.
  • In Texas, the applicant must indicate if he/she is a union member.
  • In California, the agency requires a phone interview for applicants who are involved in a strike, lockout or a labor dispute.

Given above are the requirements in a few states in the US. Similarly, every other state asks for different pieces of information while deciding your eligibility for unemployment benefits.

Procedure To File A Claim

Are you unsure about how to register for your unemployment benefits? If so, keep the following things in mind while doing so-

  • Once unemployed, you should contact the State Unemployment Insurance Agency as soon as possible. There are provisions to do the same over a telephone or mail, in some of the states in the US.
  • Accurate details of yourself (which includes your name and permanent address) and of your previous employment should be given when asked for, in order to make sure that your claim is not denied.
  • If you have worked in a state that you are not currently residing in, or in multiple states, the UI agency where you live now can provide information on how to file your claim with other states.
  • Generally, it takes more than a week or two for you to receive your first benefit check. In some states, a waiting period of one week is required.

Is It A Grey Sky Lying Ahead?

“10 years ago I was proud to begin working on bipartisan efforts to save unemployment insurance. Let’s do it again, quickly in this new year.” After four years of rarely weighing in on domestic issues as she served as America’s top diplomat, Clinton is increasingly placing her position on the unemployment benefits issue. The introduction of benefits to striking labor workers is one big move and promises a very bright future.

Despite being a very thoughtful and effective measure, the benefits program for the unemployed striking workers faces uncertainty. A new Rasmussen report on national television and the online survey finds that 57% of likely US voters oppose a law in their state that would allow union workers to collect unemployment workers while on strike. 32% favors the law while 11% are undecided. This leads us to another dilemma as to what is going to happen in the near future.

Yes, the brick has been laid, but what’s to come over it is something that none of us are aware of.


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