BOSTON – The Massachusetts State Senate yesterday passed legislation to extend unemployment benefits for locked out National Grid workers for up to 26 additional weeks, or until National Grid workers are no longer locked out, whichever comes first. The benefits would be part of the existing unemployment insurance (UI) system.
“This bill would help relieve the immense pressure that the loss of income and health insurance places on the National Grid workers to give up important benefits, accept higher out-of-pocket health care costs, and deny defined benefit pensions to future workers,” said Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville). “Unions have benefited all of us and helped build the middle class. They have raised employment standards for everyone, not just their own members. They are now our main bulwark against the erosion of the middle class.”
This legislation is designed to address the concerns of the approximately 1,250 workers scheduled to stop receiving UI benefits on January 14, 2019 because of the ongoing National Grid lockout. Under this legislation, benefits would be paid out through the existing unemployment insurance system, and will impact the experience rating of the employer engaged in the lockout, resulting in higher UI costs for that employer going forward.
The bill now goes to the House for consideration.