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Unemployment Hearings

Upon the outset of every unemployment hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) /Referee will ask the employer to provide background employment information including if your former employee is a union member.  The main reason they are interested is to determine if a union grievance (related to the separation issue) has been filed by the former employee and if an arbitration hearing is being held simultaneous with the unemployment hearing.  If this is the case, the ALJ may postpone the UI hearing until after the arbitrator’s decision has been issued as the ALJ’s decision may be bound by the arbitration decision.

Some unions also provide representation for separated employees at the hearing.  This is a rare occurrence; however, an ALJ/Referee may suggest this to a claimant in the event of a continuance or when a grievance or arbitration is pending.

Awareness of these issues and careful preparation before an unemployment hearing are essential for a positive outcome.

Back Pay Awards

If a union worker is awarded back-pay as part of their grievance resolution and received unemployment benefits (while they were out of work), the state agency will be looking for reimbursement for the unemployment benefits they received during the time they were not working.

Are Striking Union Employees Entitled to Collect UI Benefits?

In general, striking union employees are not entitled to unemployment benefits however in some instances, if your employees are a member of a union that is currently on strike and your employees do not voluntarily participate they may be eligible to collect.  The logic here is that the work stoppage is “no fault of the worker.”   In other cases, if a worker is disqualified from receiving benefits during a strike, eligibility may resume following the end of the strike if the worker’s employment is no longer available.  Again the logic here is “no fault of the worker” if it takes an extended period for normal business operations to resume.   Note, a lockout is another exception.  In the event of an employer-initiated lockout, workers are typically entitled to benefits as long as they are ready willing and able to work under conditions of their existing or expired contract. State law varies on these issues, so please contact us with questions.

Are Work Search Requirements Waived for Unemployed Union Employees?

Under typical circumstances, unemployed workers must be ready, willing, able, and actively seeking suitable work to maintain eligibility for unemployment benefits.  However, if your employees are members of a union that has a “local hiring hall” that seeks new work on the worker’s behalf, the work search requirement may be limited to the hiring hall.

 

 


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