Striking Workers Exempt from Benefits Under Bill

Apr 1, 2017

The West Virginia House of Delegates has passed a Senate bill that changes the eligibility for unemployment benefits for workers who go on strike.

Del. Mike Caputo, D-Marion.
Credit Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Senate Bill 222 was taken up by the House during a Saturday floor session. The bill would make workers who have temporarily lost their jobs due to a strike ineligible for unemployment benefits from the state.

Workers who go on strike and are permanently replaced at their jobs or workers who are impacted by a lock out can still receive those benefits.

Del. Mike Caputo, D-Marion, who is an international vice president for the United Mine Workers of America, said during a floor speech the bill is unnecessary and a “poke in the eye” to labor unions.

“This is just, in my opinion, a very unfair piece of legislation to workers who in the event have to go on strike to use the tool of withholding their labor to get a fair and just contract,” Caputo said, “This system has worked for many, many years, I don’t know anybody in recent history that’s receiving unemployment benefits; I don’t even know anybody in recent history who’s been on strike in West Virginia; there so few and far between anymore.”

House Judiciary Chair John Shott, R-Mercer, argued the bill clarifies the provision in the law.

It passed the chamber 57 to 42 and now heads back to the Senate.