Tartaglione: Unemployment Compensation Legislation to Aid 44,000 Workers
Harrisburg – October 25, 2016 – State Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia) said that an amendment was approved by the Senate today that would aid seasonal/cyclical workers who were negatively impacted by a change in the unemployment compensation (UC) law adopted four years ago.
The amended legislation (House Bill 319) is expected to be considered for final passage in the Senate tomorrow.
“It is imperative that we restore unemployment compensation eligibility for seasonal and cyclical workers who were disadvantaged by the law,” Tartaglione said. “Far too many workers were negatively impacted and this needs to be rectified as soon as possible.”
Tartaglione said the legislation was amended to reduce the percentage of income earned outside an employee’s high quarter in order to be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits.
The formula was changed four years ago by Act 60. Under that law, a worker earning less than 49.5 percent of income in the three quarters outside the high quarter was ineligible for UC benefits. The legislation reduces the percentage to 37 percent and restores it to the previous rate.
Tartaglione said the change is estimated to benefit 44,000 workers. She said many of the workers are in the building trades who became victims of the unintended consequences of the change.
“Families were needlessly impacted and lives disturbed,” Tartaglione said. “Seasonal and cyclical workers were being penalized through no fault of their own.”
Tartaglione, who serves as Democratic chair of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee, was involved in negotiating the legislative language to help the workers, in addition to other provisions in the legislation.
She said that she was pleased with the bipartisan work that went into developing the amendment and thanked the chair of the committee, Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) for her assistance.
The amendment includes a number of other UC provisions including an increase in the reserve, a modification of the benefit rate, amnesty and anti-fraud provisions and solvency trigger changes that are intended to preserve the integrity of the UC Trust Fund.
The amendment was approved on a 39-9 vote.