Strikes are organized by employees in order to protest working conditions. During a strike, employees typically refrain from working in order to pressure their employer into making long-lasting, drastic changes to company policies. Employees do not expect to be compensated during this period, but many workers wonder whether or not they will be able to collect unemployment insurance. The answer is almost always no, but there are some unique instances when a striking worker can receive unemployment benefits.
Eligibility Rules and Regulations
The vast majority of states do not allow striking workers to take advantage of unemployment benefits. This is a general rule, but if you are a member of a union that is on strike, and you do not participate in the strike, you may still be able to receive benefits, even if your position is terminated. If you cannot collect unemployment during the strike, you may be eligible to collect it once the work stoppage ends or if you are terminated for reasons that are unrelated to the strike. It is important to note, however, that some states still bar striking workers from receiving unemployment for a specific period of time, regardless of how quickly the strike is resolved.
During the lag time between the end of the strike and the return to normal operations, you may be able to receive unemployment insurance. This will depend on the cause of the strike and whether or not the party you belong to is responsible. If this lag time was caused by the strike itself, especially in cases where physical damage to property occurred, you will probably be ineligible. Before attempting to collect your benefits, you should have an in-depth understanding of the nature of the dispute; this will save you time in the event that you do not qualify.
If your place of employment has been shut down due to a strike or a dispute at another branch, you will more than likely be eligible to collect unemployment benefits. This is a general rule, not law, and there are some states that will still not allow you to collect under these circumstances.
Employer Initiated Strikes and Lockouts
There are a few states that will allow workers to collect unemployment benefits if the strike results from an employer-backed lockout. This means that if an employee is ready and willing to return to work and cannot due to a lockout, they must be provided with benefits. Simply put, if the strike is initiated by your employer, you will still be eligible for unemployment insurance.
In some states, workers may still receive benefits if the strike results from an employer violating certain acts, agreements, or rules such as the following:
“State or federal wage and hour laws
“Health and safety regulations
“Collective bargaining agreements or rights
“National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)
By violating the laws or acts above, employers create an unsafe or unfair environment for their workers. This means that you will not be held liable if an employer creates a working environment of this nature.
Under the majority of circumstances, collective bargaining will not hold the same weight as striking. Collective bargaining occurs when members of a union confront company leaders with their concerns and grievances. In order to prevent a strike, the leaders will usually strike a deal with union members and improve working conditions. Most of these issues involve wages and working hours, but many of them may be related to other aspects of the job. If this occurs at your workplace, you will probably be eligible for benefits. This eligibility does not extend to all workers, and there are some industries and states that place restrictions on unions and collective bargains.
Determining your claims for unemployment during a strike is dependent on quite a few factors. If you need additional information regarding work stoppages and employment benefits, you should consult an employment lawyer or your local labor laws.
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