Unemployment benefits to workers on strikes lasting over 30 days: Massachusetts Law

The bill addresses the financial challenges faced by workers during strikes and aims to prevent employer manipulation of benefits


A legislation has been proposed that would allow workers in Massachusetts on strike for over 30 days to receive unemployment benefits. The aim of this legislation, according to union members, is to ensure fair and balanced collective bargaining negotiations. Senator Paul Feeney and state representative Lindsay Sabadosa filed the proposals, seeing them as a powerful tool to level the playing field for employees when discussing wages, schedules, job security, and working conditions with corporate employers.

Feeney emphasised that labour strikes are a final course of action for workers who should have access to safety-net benefits to support their families and cover expenses, including healthcare, during the strike. He argued that certain unemployment benefits can be manipulated by employers during contentious negotiations to pressure workers and tip the scales in their favour. The lack of consistency in the granting of unemployment benefits depending on different governing administrations has created uncertainty.

The proposed legislation seeks to remove legal obstacles that workers currently face when proving their eligibility for unemployment benefits during labour disputes.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) opposes the bills, stating that the unemployment insurance system is fragile and should not be further burdened. It argues against interference in negotiations between businesses and labour unions.

Despite opposition, Feeney hopes that the proposed legislation will be seriously considered. A similar bill was favourably reported out of committee last year but did not progress further.

A Verizon employee who faced financial struggles during a strike testified that the proposed legislation offers an opportunity for union leadership to negotiate fairly with corporations that hold significant leverage over workers. Jeremiah Poirier, president, IBEW Local 2325, highlighted that fear of financial instability prevents workers from fully participating in strikes, and providing unemployment benefits would enable workers to exercise their right to protest while protecting them from employer exploitation.


  1. Where is the Teamsters’ strike fund? It is irresponsible for them to promote a UPS strike in a few weeks if they cannot compensate their strking employees.

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