The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Michigan Politicians Attack Unemployment Benefits

Jan 9, 2012

In the midst of continuing high levels of unemployment, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed unemployment legislation that drastically cuts the length of time workers can receive benefits, and makes it easier to cut people off benefits or even deny them benefits.

The new law reduces the number of weeks workers are eligible to receive unemployment from 26 to 20 weeks. This in a state that has seen its official unemployment rate remain above 10% since the end of 2008.

The new law also broadens the definitions of absenteeism, theft, and drug abuse as reasons for being denied benefits.

Those lucky enough to receive benefits can now lose them if they refuse work, even if it is outside their previous area of experience, so long as it pays just slightly more than they receive on unemployment. In other words, accept a pay cut of more than 35% or lose your unemployment check!

The law also includes stricter requirements for people to report where they went to look for work and to whom they spoke. With unemployment as high as it is, very few businesses even accept applications.

Michigan is not alone in attacking unemployment benefits. In the last year, two others, Missouri and South Carolina, also reduced their weeks of eligibility from 26 to 20. Florida reduced its to between 13 and 23, depending on the unemployment rate, and Arkansas reduced its to 25 weeks. Like Michigan, Florida and South Carolina are states with high unemployment and the others are not far behind.

It would seem crazy for the states to be cutting unemployment benefits when unemployment remains high. But the bosses are crazy like a fox. Unemployment is a tool they use to force workers to accept low wages and poor working conditions. The new laws help them do it.