Wednesday, August 15, 2012

US says GA must stop starving laid-off workers

Well, that's not exactly what the U.S. Labor Department said, but that's what it meant. Thousands of educational workers in Georgia had been left hungry and nearly homeless when Labor Commissioner Mark Butler suddenly cut their unemployment benefits without warning.

Butler is a former real estate appraiser who had an interesting dating history while serving as assemblyman. (He said there was nothing wrong with the relationship.)

Seven hundred members of Teamsters Local 728 were hurt by his decision. But now they may get justice.

We learned last week that the U.S. Department of Labor told Butler has to reverse his decision. They said that state and federal law prevent him from cutting workers earned benefits.

Here's the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Thousands of Georgia bus drivers, cafeteria workers and private school teachers, who this year were denied usual summertime unemployment checks, may get that money after all, according to the U.S. Department of Labor... 
Washington officials determined last week that the Georgia Department of Labor violated workplace laws by refusing to pay the benefits. In an Aug. 2 letter obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the federal government ordered Butler to rescind the ruling and pay the teachers and contract workers for the weeks, or months, of lost unemployment benefits... 
Butler met Monday in Atlanta with Teamsters Local 728 and other union and community leaders representing thousands of affected workers. He was granted a month's reprieve by the U.S. Labor Department to seek legal guidance from Georgia's attorney general. 
By then, though, Washington expects the state to begin repaying workers such as Everton Daswell, a shuttle bus driver at Kennesaw State University whose summertime unemployment compensation claims were denied. 
"If the [U.S. Labor Department's] ruling stands, then I say justice has been done," said Daswell, who works for a private company that contracts with the university.
Stay tuned.