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Pay unemployment to Ga. seasonal workers, advocates say

Monday, Sept. 17, 2012 7:12 AM
Last updated 7:53 PM
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ATLANTA -- Two legislative groups are demanding Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler pay 32,000 school workers unemployment benefits for their summer break.

The Georgia Working Families Legislative Caucus joined the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus at its annual convention in Stone Mountain to urge Butler to issue the benefit checks as the Department of Labor has done for decades.

“It’s concerting very much on a human level but also on a state-leadership level,” said Sen. Nan Orrock, an Atlanta Democrat who co-chairs the Working Families group. “Is this the way we treat hard-working Georgians?”

The workers are bus drivers, cafeteria employees and others employed by private companies under contract with schools and colleges. In years past, those workers collected weekly unemployment checks when they were off the job.

Butler changed the policy on the benefits last winter, but it didn’t surface until bus drivers for the Savannah public schools were denied benefits when they applied during spring break. They and groups have staged protests in Savannah, Augusta and Atlanta in the months since.

In early August, the U.S. Department of Labor instructed Butler to restore the benefits. A month later, he wrote back asking for more time and explaining that state law exempts the workers just as it does for teachers and employees working directly for public schools.

“In short, a reasonable interpretation of Georgia’s unemployment-compensation statue permits the denial of unemployment compensation for summer breaks and other school vacations to all education workers -- rather than only those paid directly by schools, school boards or nonprofits -- and does not conflict with federal law in that respect of otherwise,” he wrote.

Friday’s press conference demonstrated legislative interest in the issue.

Orrock said she had spoken to U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis about the issue and would continue to keep it in the public spotlight as long as needed.

“We intend to use the bully pulpit,” Orrock said. “We think most Georgians are not aware of this situation. It’s a gross abuse of power by a statewide elective official.”

Butler was out of town Friday and unavailable to comment, said his spokesman Ed Hall.

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scgator
1042
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scgator 09/17/12 - 09:39 am
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LIBERALS AT IT AGAIN!!!

LEGALLY, as a school employee, when you are off for the summer, you are STILL an employee; you just do not have any "scheduled" work days for that time period. Under the law, you are still employed because your benefits and your tenure go on; YOU cannot accept unemployment AND be employed at the same time. The way it used to be, and I don't know if it still is....you were given a choice when hired by the school system to receive your salary over 12 months or 9 months; either way, you were STILL an active employee.

This is liberalism at its best; ALWAYS wanting something more for those who don't qualify, from those who are paying...........GEORGIA will do ALL of her taxpayers justice if she digs her heels in on this one and says NO!

Little Lamb
46367
Points
Little Lamb 09/17/12 - 10:35 am
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Seeking Work

Part of the bargain for receiving unemployment compensation is that you actively look for work! These school bus drivers, school cafeteria workers, school contractors, etc. are no more looking for work than the man in the moon.

If the state pays these people, the money comes from state taxpayers. We are taxed enough already. State coffers are not recovering because of Georgia's higher than average unemployment.

constituent
164
Points
constituent 09/17/12 - 05:05 pm
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" The Party of No" See what

" The Party of No" See what happen when a Republican elected win office. I hope these 32k school workers exercise their right to vote on Nov.6, and oppose all Republican candidates on the ballot.

dbruker
46
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dbruker 09/18/12 - 05:56 am
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What?

The bus drivers filed for unemployment benefits for Spring Break?

avidreader
3259
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avidreader 09/18/12 - 06:08 am
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Teacher Contracts!

Teachers are contracted to work 190 days (without furloughs -- nine of them in Richmond County). The 190 day salary is spread out over 12 months. And yes, good teachers usually spend a lot of hours working at home, preparing for matters that cannot be accomplished during the school day.
Seasonal education workers are paid hourly for the actual time they work. When late May rolls around they are tecnically out of a job until early August. Do their health/dental benefits continue through the summer? If so, then they are still employees during the summer. If not, then they are technically and legally unemployed and have a right to accept state funds until re-hired again in August.

When a person accepts a job and knows the parameters of the position, then the matter is settled. If a lunchroom worker knows that there will be no income during the summer, then a decision has to be made -- either accept the job or not. If excellent health and dental insurance is appealing, then . . .

Why not "grandfather" in all of the current seasonal employees and start new rules for new hires?

It's a big ole mess, isn't it? It's sound financial practice vs. quality of life. I can lean either way if someone will explain the entire situation in more detail. I'd really like to know more about the insurance aspect.

itsanotherday1
43681
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itsanotherday1 09/18/12 - 01:55 pm
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Good points avid. Either you

Good points avid. Either you are employed, or you're not. If not, and eligible for unemployment, then they should have to reapply for their jobs every fall. Actually, that would be a good way to get rid of deadwood.

debraparker63
4
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debraparker63 09/28/12 - 12:19 pm
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deleted

deleted

debraparker63
4
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debraparker63 09/28/12 - 12:21 pm
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This is just plain discrimination!

Many school districts, like in my city, contract the work out to companies like First Student who pay their employees a rate of pay for hours worked then approve for unemployment during the off seasons if no work is available. It's the same as for all the carpet manufacturers in the area; they put their employees on rotating layoff shifts where they work for 3 months and then they're laid off for a month WITH UNEMPLOYMENT benefits until they return. These employees know they will return to work at the end of that month yet they still get their benefits. So why are "school employees" the exception?

I agree with rmwardsr (from a previous post): "If a company lays off workers for a certain period, such as a two week hiatus, aren't they eligible for unemployment even though they know they have a definite date to return to work? Why begrudge someone who is actually working access to funds to keep their family afloat between gaps in their contract? We should be focusing our efforts toward those who take advantage of government programs to finance their lifestyles at the taxpayers expense while making no contribution to the system. Those are the ones we need to worry about. I see them everyday, they buy lottery tickets like they are going out of style, and use SNAP funds for snack items, and one would probably think I am making racist comments, but I am talking abut white people who do this also."

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