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State denies unemployment benefits to St. Louis grocers

December 9, 2003
By: Aidian Holder
State Capital Bureau

The state of Missouri is denying unemployment claims to more than 6,000 workers involved in October's grocery strike and lockout. Aidian Holder has more.

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Union members would have been eligible for as much as $750 of unemployment benefits for the time they spent on the picket line, but the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial relations says Missouri labor law doesn't allow strikers to receive benefits and in this case workers locked out by their employers aren't eligible either.

Rejection notices will be mailed this week. The union has promised its members will appeal the decision.

Division of Employment Security spokeswoman Tammy Cavender says the appeal will be heard as one case by the states unemployment referees.

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Contents: "We aren't going to hear individual testimony from 6,000 people."

Union members have 30 days to appeal the decision. An appeals hearing will likely be scheduled for February of next year.

From the state Capitol, I'm Aidian Holder

The state of Missouri is denying the unemployment claims of thousands of St. Louis grocery workers who spent most of October on strike. The union promises to appeal the decision, but, as Aidian Holder reports, the union's odds aren't good.

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More than 6,000 union members applied to recieve unemployment benefits for the three plus weeks they were on the picket line -- either striking or locked out by their employers. Workers could have recieved as much as $750 each.

But this week the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations began mailing rejection notices for the claims because state law denies unemployment to workers involved in most kinds of labor disputes. Union leaders are crying foul, saying that locked out workers were unemployed involuntarily, and should recieve the benefits.

Washington University law professor and labor law expert Neil Bernstein disagrees.

Actuality:lawprof
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Contents: "Understand, these workers were locked out in only the most technical sense."

Union leaders promise their members will appeal the decision; an appeals hearing will likely be scheduled for February of next year.

From the State Capitol, I'm Aidian Holder