For Immediate Release
Laura Harper, Maine Women's Lobby
Office: (207) 622-0851, ext. 21 Cell: (207) 462-4067
Matt Schlobohm, Maine AFL-CIO
Cell: (207) 576-3572
Robyn Merrill, Maine Equal Justice Partners
Cell: (207) 446-4960
Working Families Coalition Disappointed by Vote to Punish the Unemployed
“Today, a majority of the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee voted to pass as amended L.D. 1725, “An Act To Strengthen the Unemployment Insurance Laws and Reduce Unemployment Fraud” said Maine Women’s Lobby Director of Public Policy Laura Harper. “With so many Maine people struggling to make ends meet in the worst recession since the Great Depression, we should be working together to find ways to create jobs – not to punish those who have lost theirs.”
The Maine Working Families Coalition has repeatedly encouraged members of the joint committee to take a family- focused approach to a wide range of issues and L.D. 1725 in particular, a bill that would roll back jobless benefits.
“Workers shouldn't be penalized by having their unemployment insurance delayed just because they had earned vacation time on the books when they were laid off,” said Matt Schlobohm, Executive Director of the Maine AFL-CIO. “The Legislature fixed this problem two years ago and it is senseless to go backwards, especially while so many Maine workers are currently facing the uncertainty and stress of unemployment. We oppose L.D. 1725."
In addition to delaying assistance, the bill as amended would reduce the amount of time that unemployed workers have to search for jobs at their prior wage or skill level.
“It’s hard to understand why the legislature is focused on making it harder for workers to get this type of support during the worst economic climate since the Great Depression. We all know that Maine people searching for jobs are already having a tough time finding work. Why would we want to make unemployed workers take jobs they’re not suited for instead of utilizing their skills for the benefit of themselves and the economy? Law-makers should be focused on job creation instead of making things harder for unemployed workers,” said Robyn Merrill of Maine Equal Justice Partners.
The minority report from the committee was also voted ought to pass as amended but those members voted to retain existing law surrounding workers’ earned vacation pay and to keep 12 weeks as the amount of time a worker has to search for employment at his or her prior wage level.
The Maine Working Families Coalition represents a number of civic, service, religious and business organizations from across the state with the shared goal of a balanced approach to growing Maine’s economy that supports both employers and employees. Coalition members assert that economic security for working families is a necessity for future growth of Maine’s businesses and economy.
Members of the Working Families Coalition include: Maine Centers for Women Work and Community, Legal Services for the Elderly, Maine People’s Alliance, Maine Women’s Lobby, League of Young Voters, Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, Maine Children’s Alliance, Mabel Wadsworth Health Center, Child Care Services of York County, The Alzheimer’s Association- Maine Chapter, National Association of Social Workers - Maine Chapter, Maine Council of Senior Citizens, Maine Nurses Association, Family Planning Association of Maine, Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Disability Rights Center of Maine, Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Business and Professional Women, Maine, Maine Equal Justice Partners, Maine Association of Interdependent Neighborhoods, Maine Center for Economic Policy, American Association of University Women of Maine, Maine AFL-CIO, Consumer for Affordable Health Care, Maine Fair Trade Campaign, Equality Maine, AFSCME Council 93 Maine, Maine State Employees Association/SEIU, Maine Education Association, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Maine Public Health Association, Maine Developmental Disabilities Council, Maine Head Start Directors Association, Food and Medicine, Southern Maine Labor Council, Maine Council of Churches, Maine Small Business Coalition