Unemployment Insurance benefits for striking workers passes in ‘the dead of night’

Feb 15, 2024
Written by WR Communications

In early morning floor action, the House of Representatives passed HB 1893 to extend unemployment insurance benefits to workers on strike or locked out of their workplace due to a labor dispute. The bill passed at around 2:00 a.m. on February 13 on a 53-44 vote, with five Democrats voting with Republicans against the bill.

Washington’s unemployment insurance system, which is entirely funded by employers, provides benefits to workers who lose their jobs through “no fault of their own.” There are several situations where benefits are allowed when a worker leaves a position voluntarily. A strike, however, is very different — the worker is voluntarily leaving their position and likely has a job to return to after the strike. HB 1893 is a dramatic change in policy.

The bill was amended on the floor to limit benefits to four weeks, apply all benefit costs against the experience rating of the impacted employer, exempt strikes that are prohibited under federal or state law, and require the return of benefits if workers receive back pay at the conclusion of a strike.

HB 1893 now moves to the Senate, where a similar bill, SB 5777 has failed to move.


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