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House Dems Propose Unemployment Benefits For Striking Workers

A plan is being introduced at the Ohio Statehouse that would not only help union workers in any future strikes, but could also benefit the General Motors workers in their current strike.

House Democrats want to allow striking union workers to receive unemployment compensation and food stamp benefits. Workers on strike do not currently see these benefits because going on strike is considered a decision to voluntarily leave employment.

Rep. Jeff Crossman (D-Parma) and Rep. Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo) say that's not an accurate reflection of a strike and that the law should be changed.

Sheri Baker has been a United Auto Worker union member for nearly 23 years. She says these benefits, especially for temporary workers, would go a long way.

"It is very important because they're not knowing how they're going to feed their children, they're not knowing how to buy formula, buy diapers," says Baker.

Union leaders are looking through a tentative agreement between labor and General Motors that could end a strike that's lasted longer than 30 days. The plan from House Democrats includes a provision to make those benefits apply retroactively for the GM employees who have been out of work during the strike.

Crossman says he hopes House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) will support the bill. When locked in a tight race to become speaker in January, Householder gained an edge with the support of labor groups. Crossman says he doesn't want to speak on behalf of labor, but "When labor supported the speaker for the speakership seat, protecting workers was among those chief concerns and this is one of those things we're trying to do here."

Householder's spokesperson said they had not seen the bill and therefore did not want to comment on the legislation yet.

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