The New Jersey State AFL-CIO supports this important reform legislation and respectfully asks for your support when posted for a vote in the State Senate.
Due to several loopholes in New Jersey’s current laws governing unemployment benefits for workers locked out or on strike, they rarely ever actually receive intended benefits. Coupled with an extremely long waiting period to qualify, only once (according to the State Department of Labor) have the existing laws ever resulted in delivering unemployment benefits to workers locked out or on strike. New Jersey’s law concerning UI for locked out workers was enacted in 2005, and our law concerning UI and striking workers was enacted in 2018. Yet over this time frame, the current language of the law makes it a “on paper” only benefit to struggling workers. Despite the well intentioned “spirit” of unemployment benefits laws for workers involved in work stoppages, the unfortunate reality is that our current laws are so riddled with loopholes and disqualifying waiting periods, that they are for the most part relatively useless. The bill seeks to correct these flaws. For example, under current law if an employer hires replacement workers, the striking workers are eligible for UI benefits as of the day the replacement workers are hired. However, all the employer has to do to waive UI benefits is declare that the replacement workers are “temporary.” If this “temporary worker notice provision” is utilized by the employer, then the striking workers are no longer eligible for benefits for the first 30 days they are on strike. The bill closes this “poison pill” loophole among other loopholes. It’s also important to note that 90% of strikes, according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, last less than one week. Therefore, few if any workers will ever get benefits due to the 30-day prolonged waiting period. This legislation reduces the waiting period to 14 days. The bill has already passed the Assembly with bipartisan support and has been released from the Senate Labor Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee. On behalf of the one million union members in the Garden State, we respectfully ask for your support of this legislation which supports one of the most basic labor rights.