Concerns Linger About Iowa’s Unemployment Cuts

Summer construction season is in full swing, but labor leaders in Iowa worry how seasonal workers will be affected down the road by changes to the state’s unemployment rules…and those aren’t the only concerns.

Back on July 1st, Iowa implemented a law that cuts jobless benefits from 26 weeks down to 16. There’s also now a shorter window for when a recipient must accept a lower-paying job.

Pete Hird, of the Iowa Federation of Labor, says a person who does road work or other forms of construction will be shortchanged during an early- or late-winter season…(audio clip below :10 )

Hird says his organization also is concerned about how Iowa modified language dealing with employee misconduct. He says it opens the door to people being denied benefits without much recourse…(audio clip below :08 )

Supporters of the changes, including Republican Governor Kim Reynolds, say the move is a form of encouragement amid the state’s workforce shortage. Despite challenges in filling open positions, Iowa’s labor participation rate is near 68-percent, which is above the national average.

Groups opposed to the changes acknowledge there’s not much opportunity in the near future to reverse them with Republicans in firm control of state government. In the meantime, Hird says they’re doing their best to educate workers.

Meanwhile, Democratic leaders have argued other remedies — such as raising Iowa’s minimum wage — would move the needle in fixing the workforce shortage problem.

(credit to Iowa News Service)