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Monday, May 27, 2024

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At least 15 dead as severe weather sweeps across central US; on Memorial Day, IA labor leaders honor fallen workers; Medical center installs microgrid to safeguard clinic power supply; 'Second look' laws gain traction, but MS sticks to elderly parole; Will summer heat melt New Mexicans' cravings for ice cream?

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One congressman cites ways Biden could get more support from communities of color. A new Louisiana law reclassifies two abortion medications as controlled substances. And Ohio advocates work to boost youth voter turnout.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

MN debates jobless benefits for striking workers

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Friday, March 15, 2024   

Minnesota is among the states taking a closer look at extending unemployment benefits to workers who go on strike. A bill making its way through the Legislature would make workers involved in a walkout of at least one week eligible for jobless benefits.

In the past year, labor economists have said, there's been positive movement with wage growth. However, backers of Minnesota's plan are pointing to major gaps between corporate profits and the pay most workers receive.

When those individuals want to fight for fair compensation, Jake Schwitzer, executive director of the left-leaning think tank North Star Policy Action, said they're at a big disadvantage in taking on ownership.

"They can use their considerable profits to engage in bad-faith negotiating tactics, and simply wait out their poorly paid workers," he said.

During labor disputes, Schwitzer said, providing unemployment benefits alleviates hardships and empowers workers to keep fighting.

Critics have cited the potential costs and disincentivizing people to work. However, research from Schwitzer's group estimates fewer than 200 additional workers are added to the unemployment rolls in these cases.

Nearly 10 other states have either debated or enacted similar laws.

John Kontzelmann, secretary-treasurer of UAW Local 125, said a walkout is viewed as a last resort, while noting the recent auto workers' strike was a tough choice for many of his colleagues.

"The uncertainty of no or reduced income, for an unknown amount of time, was very stressful and worrying," he said.

Without small levels of assistance from a union strike fund, Kontzelmann said, making ends meet would have been even more challenging for workers and their families.

The Minnesota bill cleared a House committee this week. It's unclear if it will win final legislative approval.


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