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Statement by Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga on the Unemployment Compensation Reform Bill Proceedings in the State Legislature

Statement By Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga On The Unemployment Compensation Reform Bill  Proceedings In The State Legislature

Columbus, OH – As an unemployment compensation reform package is slated for a hearing today in the Ohio House of Representatives, Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga issued the following statement:

“Today hundreds of working people will be at the Ohio Statehouse to urge the state legislature to not cut unemployment benefits or restrict eligibility for those that become displaced from their job.  Ohio already has a balanced benefit schedule for unemployed workers and it makes no sense to address solvency of the system by penalizing the very workers that the system was originally designed to help.”

“In fact, the percentage of the average weekly wage for Ohio’s displaced workers who qualify ranks 19th in the country.  This earned benefit simply serves as a safety net to help pay utility bills, put food on the table and keep the bottom from falling out altogether when a worker loses his or her job.  Moreover, these benefits provide a bridge for the economic health of our communities that face massive job loss during difficult times.”

“Ohio employers pay a state tax percentage into the system on the first $9,000 an employee earns, well below the national average of $13,407.  In fact, according to the Department of Labor, the average contribution per covered employee for Ohio was $269 in 2015.  When compared to the U.S. average, which is $370, Ohio ranked 35th among the 50 states. And the Ohio average contribution per covered employee is much lower as compared to each of our neighboring states.”

“Employers have been short changing the unemployment compensation system for far too long, which is the biggest contributor to the solvency problem.  Ohio working people deserve a sensible reform package that preserves these modest benefits and does not place any undue burden on the unemployed.  Rather, a fair approach can be achieved by making for a solution that keeps the system sound and does not diminish this important safety net.  To accomplish this we will urge Legislators to hit the reset button, and address this vitally important issue in the next General Assembly.  System reforms should be the result of a collaborative effort between labor, business and the general assembly as it has been historically.”

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