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RELEASE: Rep. Berg and Sen. Mohamed unveil legislation allowing striking workers to access unemployment insurance

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Today, Rep. Kaela Berg (DFL - Burnsville) and Sen. Zaynab Mohamed (DFL - Minneapolis) unveiled legislation which would expand unemployment insurance eligibility to include some workers while on strike. They were joined by representatives from UAW Local 125 and the Minnesota AFL-CIO.

“As a proud rank and file union member, I know that unions provide workers with a strong voice in the workplace,” Rep. Berg said. “When workers come to the table to bargain in good faith for not just their own wages, benefits and safety, but for the good of their families, their communities and future workers in their industries, it helps the entire economy.”

HF 3446 and SF 3588 is nation-leading legislation that will grant striking workers the same access to their unemployment benefits as any other worker, which already includes locked-out workers. Like other workers, striking workers would need to observe the same non-payable week, meaning that only those uncommon strikes lasting more than a week will result in any UI benefits being paid to striking workers. 

This legislation comes on the heels of a new report that found in 2023 there were 451 strikes nationwide, compared to 414 in 2022 and 270 in 2021. The report also showed the average CEO-to-worker pay ratio is now 344:1, compared to 21:1 in 1965. By allowing Minnesotan workers who are striking to access unemployment insurance, this bill will create a more level playing field between corporations and workers.

“DFLers are committed to ensuring Minnesotan workers can use their right to collective action to obtain the pay and dignity they deserve without fear of economic disaster,” Sen. Mohamed said. “By providing unemployment insurance to striking workers, we will assure them if they need to strike, they will have access to a basic level of stability for themselves and their families as they work to establish fair wages and working conditions.”

The bill is currently scheduled to be heard by the House Workforce Development Finance and Policy Committee on Wednesday, March 13.