Julie Kushner

State Senator

Julie Kushner

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working Together for Progress

February 16, 2023


Thursday, February 16, 2023


HARTFORD – State Senator Julie Kushner (D-Danbury) today led Democrats on the Labor and Public Employees Committee in the successful passage of a bill that would allow striking workers to begin collecting unemployment benefits after two weeks if the company owner has locked them out of a job.

Senate Bill 938, “AN ACT CONCERNING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR STRIKING WORKERS,” passed on a partisan committee vote of 7-4, with all Republicans opposed. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for further consideration.

“In this post-pandemic world that we live in, with unemployment rates at record lows and business begging for new hires, there’s a new reality that employees and the services they provide and the jobs that they do are valued more than ever. The days of locking out employees on a picket line and trying to starve them into submission on a union contract are over,” Sen. Kushner said. “People don’t go on strike easily, or for petty reasons. It usually only comes about after years of working in untenable conditions and months of behind-the-scenes negotiations. Unemployment benefits after two weeks can help both the worker and the business owner come together by increasing good-faith bargaining and shortening strikes.”

At the public hearing on the bill, committee members heard stories from people who have walked picket lines – sometimes for weeks or months – without earning a paycheck and without any guarantee of even returning to work.

“My name is Jose Anaya and I live in Bridgeport,” one such employee testified. “In April of 2019, as a newly full-time employee at Stop and Shop, I walked out along with over 10,000 of my coworkers in Connecticut and thousands more in New England. I had watched my union leadership bargain for nearly four months before telling us we had no choice but to stand up and walk out. I walked out on strike despite being the only wage earner in my home and without substantial savings to protect me… the loss of eleven days of income is frankly something that took me over a year to catch up from.”

“During the strike I was lucky to have a supportive family and a husband who worked, but losing my wages was hard on us,” Wanda Ferrera of New Haven testified about the time she went on strike against Yale University. “We could call our mortgage company and utilities and say that we were in a time of hardship, but that was only temporary. Unemployment benefits would have helped to carry us through that time.”

New York and New Jersey already have such laws in place: In 2020, New York reduced its waiting period from seven weeks to two weeks in order to collect unemployment, and New Jersey has a 30-day waiting period but is considering legislation to reduce it to two weeks.