Washington House votes to allow unemployment benefits for strikers


OLYMPIA — After receiving thousands of emails, phone calls, and personal visits in support, Washington state representatives voted 53-44 Feb. 13 to approve a bill to allow striking workers to receive limited unemployment insurance benefits. HB 1893’s passage keeps the legislation alive after a cutoff deadline for bills to pass their houses of origin. The vote occurred after 2 a.m. after a lengthy debate and multiple amendments. Among the changes that were approved:

The cost of the benefits will be charged to the employer’s experience rating to avoid those costs being socialized into the system.

The length of time striking workers can receive benefits was limited to four weeks. The underlying bill already requires a 14-day waiting period before strikers can apply for benefits.

“It’s time to level the playing field for our workers that make out economy work,” said Representative Beth Doglio (D-Olympia), the bill’s prime sponsor, during floor debate. “I ask for you to join me in helping to do just a little bit to help workers protect their families when they are on strike.”

HB 1893 and its Senate companion bill, SB 5777 sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), are among the priority bills in the Washington State Labor Council’s 2024 Legislative Agenda.

This article appeared first in The Stand, Washington State Labor Council’s outstanding weekday labor news site, and is excerpted here with permission.


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