Relates to unemployment benefits for innocent bystanders during industry controversy.
BILL NUMBER: S3359
TITLE OF BILL :
An act to amend the labor law, in relation to unemployment benefits for innocent bystanders during an industrial controversy
This bill would protect innocent bystanders who suffer periods of unemployment as the result of a strike in which they are not participating by removing the seven-week waiting period for unemployment benefits that otherwise applies. It would also delete the requirement that employers pay interest on unemployment benefits improperly suspended when employers mislead the Commissioner regarding their intention to rehire striking workers at the conclusion of the strike.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS :
Section 1 of the bill would amend Labor Law § 592(1) to remove the seven-week waiting period for receipt of unemployment benefits that currently applies to claimants who have lost their jobs due to a strike or other industrial controversy, for claimants who are "innocent bystanders." Specifically, the bill would exempt a claimant from the seven-week waiting period where the Commissioner determines that the claimant is not working for an employer or bargaining unit involved in the industrial controversy, and is not otherwise participating in the controversy. This section also deletes the requirement that employers pay interest on benefits improperly suspended against worker who are replaced during the strike and are not re-hired once the strike ends, after their employer certified to the Commissioner that the workers were being replaced on a temporary basis and would be re-hired.
Section 2 of the bill would establish an immediate effective date and provide that the bill will apply to loss of employment beginning on or after the effective date.
EXISTING LAW :
Labor Law § 592 requires a seven-week waiting period prior to eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits for claimants who become unemployed as a result of a strike, regardless of whether they are participating in the strike. Labor Law § 592 also requires employers to pay interest and a penalty on unemployment benefits improperly suspended against strikers when their employers mislead the Commissioner regarding their intention to rehire the workers when the strike ends.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY :
This is a new proposal.
STATEMENT IN SUPPORT :
Unemployment insurance benefits are intended to provide a critical safety net to workers who lose their employment through no fault of their own by preserving some income for the unemployed worker and his or her family. Individuals who are unable to work because their place of employment is closed or their work is interrupted as a result of a strike in which they are not involved, should be eligible to take advantage of the protection afforded by the unemployment insurance law. Under current law, striking employees may receive unemployment benefits, but must wait seven weeks before being eligible for benefits. This legislation is intended to ensure that innocent bystanders who do not participate in the strike and whose employers or bargaining units are not included in the strike, but who lose their jobs nonetheless as a result of the strike, are not penalized by also having to wait seven weeks to receive benefits. The bill would also help secondary employers who are not responsible for the strike to retain their workforce, where they are compelled to suspend operations and layoff workers due to a downturn in business from the strike. By allowing their workers to receive unemployment benefits, the workers will have income to support their families during the strike and may be less likely to look for other jobs before the strike ends.
In addition, the bill would eliminate the requirement that employers pay interest on unemployment benefits for workers who were not re-hired at the conclusion of a strike in violation of an employer's commitment. Chapter 609 of the laws of 2008 created the interest remedy to compensate employees where their employers certified to the Commissioner that replacement workers hired during the strike were temporary replacements when, in fact, they were retained following the strike. In addition, the Chapter added a significant employer penalty of $750 per employee for each week of benefits lost as a result of the employer deception. The change included in this bill will not affect that penalty. It would merely eliminate an interest payment which would in most circumstances be a nominal monetary amount that would cost far more to implement and administer than the resulting benefit to the employee.
BUDGET IMPLICATIONS :
There is no fiscal impact associated with this proposal.
EFFECTIVE DATE : This proposal would take effect immediately and apply to loss of employment beginning on or after such effective date.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 3359 2009-2010 Regular Sessions IN SENATE March 17, 2009 ___________Introduced by Sens. ONORATO, ADDABBO, BRESLIN, SAVINO -- (at request of the Department of Labor) -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Labor AN ACT to amend the labor law, in relation to unemployment benefits for innocent bystanders during an industrial controversy THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision 1 of section 592 of the labor law, as amended by chapter 609 of the laws of 2008, is amended to read as follows: 1. Industrial controversy. (A) The accumulation of benefit rights by a claimant shall be suspended during a period of seven consecutive weeks beginning with the day after such claimant lost his or her employment because of a strike or other industrial controversy except for lockouts, including concerted activity not authorized or sanctioned by the recog- nized or certified bargaining agent of the claimant, and other concerted activity conducted in violation of any existing collective bargaining agreement, in the establishment in which he or she was employed, except that benefit rights may be accumulated before the expiration of such seven weeks beginning with the day after such strike or other industrial controversy was terminated
[; provided, however, this waiting period shall not apply upon the hiring of]. (B) BENEFITS SHALL NOT BE SUSPENDED UNDER THIS SECTION IF: (I) THE EMPLOYER HIRES a permanent replacement worker for the employ- ee's position [by the employer]. A replacement worker shall be presumed to be permanent unless the employer certifies in writing that the employee will be able to return to his or her prior position upon conclusion of the strike, in the event the strike terminates prior to the conclusion of the employee's eligibility for benefit rights under this chapter. In the event the employer does not permit such return after such certification, the employee shall be entitled to recover [with interest]any benefits lost as a result of the seven week suspen-EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD09030-03-9 S. 3359 2
sion of benefits, and the department may impose a penalty upon the employer of up to seven hundred fifty dollars per employee per week of benefits lost. THE PENALTY COLLECTED SHALL BE PAID INTO THE UNEMPLOY- MENT INSURANCE CONTROL FUND ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO SECTION FIVE HUNDRED FIFTY-TWO-B OF THIS ARTICLE; OR (II) THE COMMISSIONER DETERMINES THAT THE CLAIMANT: (A) IS NOT EMPLOYED BY AN EMPLOYER THAT IS INVOLVED IN THE INDUSTRIAL CONTROVERSY THAT CAUSED HIS OR HER UNEMPLOYMENT AND IS NOT PARTICIPATING IN THE INDUSTRIAL CONTROVERSY; OR (B) IS NOT IN A BARGAINING UNIT INVOLVED IN THE INDUSTRIAL CONTROVERSY THAT CAUSED HIS OR HER UNEMPLOYMENT AND IS NOT PARTICIPATING IN THE INDUSTRIAL CONTROVERSY. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately and shall apply to loss of employment beginning on or after such effective date.