Now that they control the state Legislature, Democrats are out to undo a number of labor laws, including one that governs how earned-pay affects unemployment benefits.
Sen. Erin Herbig of Belfast says that earned pay, such as accrued vacation pay, should not stop laid-off workers from immediately being able to collect unemployment benefits.
“There were some people that got laid off and still couldn’t collect unemployment for six months, which felt really unfair,” Herbig says.
While the change would cost the employer-funded system only a couple of hundred thousand dollars per year, the business community opposes the legislation, saying all wages earned while collecting unemployment, even accrued vacation and holiday pay, should be treated the same.
“If the fellow employee who had used all of their vacation time went out and got a part time job while they were receiving unemployment insurance, their unemployment insurance would be offset by the wages that they earned at the time,” says Peter Gore, vice president Maine State Chamber of Commerce. “Why should these wages be any different?”