BOSTON – On December 20, the Massachusetts State Senate passed legislation to extend unemployment benefits for locked-out National Grid workers for up to 26 additional weeks, or until National Grid workers are no longer locked out, whichever comes first. The benefits would be part of the existing unemployment insurance (UI) system.
“National Grid workers have been locked out of their jobs without healthcare benefits for several months, placing an unnecessary burden on their families and threatening public safety,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), member of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. “This bill takes vital steps to prevent locked-out workers and their families from experiencing economic troubles as they continue contract negotiations with National Grid. It is my hope that the two parties can come to a fair agreement with a sense of urgency so that workers can return to their jobs.”
This legislation is designed to address the concerns of the approximately 1,250 workers scheduled to stop receiving UI benefits on January 14, 2019 because of the ongoing National Grid lockout. Under this legislation, benefits would be paid out through the existing unemployment insurance system, and will impact the experience rating of the employer engaged in the lockout, resulting in higher UI costs for that employer going forward.
In the wake of the tragic events that occurred in the Merrimack Valley and in the City of Woburn, Friedman recently co-signed a bipartisan letter in support of House bill 4979, An Act to ensure the safety and soundness of the Commonwealth’s natural gas infrastructure, which was filed by Governor Baker. The bill would require that all engineering plans for gas work to be reviewed and approved by certified engineer when the work could pose a material risk to public safety.
Friedman also signed onto a letter to the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), urging the DPU to implement strict penalties on National Grid until they are able to resume safe operations in our communities.
In addition, Friedman has continuously met with locked-out workers across the 4th Middlesex district to hear their concerns, and has also been in contact with all of the municipalities in the community to see what can be done on the local level to end the dispute.
A copy of the Senate bill, SB2692, can be found here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/S2692. It now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Friedman represents the 4th Middlesex district, which includes Arlington, Billerica, Burlington, Woburn and precincts 1-2 and 4-7 in Lexington. For more information, visit www.cindyfriedman.org.