Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Walker and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce go after the Jobless, Propose Limiting Access to Unemployment Insurance.

Wisconsin set up the first unemployment compensation system in the nation.

Gov. Scott Walker is about to trash it. WMC's James Buchen calls ending unemployment benefits "the holy grail." 

Got a problem paying out unemployment benefits after workers were left high and dry after the Great Recession? The Walker Authority, taking its orders from Wisconsin Manufacturing and Commerce, is looking to attack the problem by putting fewer people on unemployment.

And magically, Wisconsin’s economy will improved. Unfortunately, the denial of benefits means the unemployed have nothing to spend. That kills demand and our economy.

But to WMC, the desire to fire employees without compensation is a slave owners dream. With a proposal to requirement job hunters to come up with an impossible 4 job applications a week, and a broader list of reasons to deny unemployment to fired employees, a cheap and desperate labor force is here at last.

Nationally, things are looking up:
jsonline: "The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell last week to the lowest level in five years." 
And just like Walker's Wisconsin, we're headed the other way:
Channel3000: Unemployment is up in nearly every Wisconsin city and county. All but two of the state's 72 counties had an increase. Only Menominee and Kenosha counties saw rates drop in December. 

Buchen's thinking ahead:
WPR News: James Buchen represents Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce on the state's Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council. He's talking about a plan that would establish a new standard called “substantial fault” when it comes to deciding whether a discharged worker qualifies for unemployment. As Buchen describes it, “There are those circumstances where employers I think feel — legitimately feel — that they have been wronged by the employee and have had very good reasons to discharge them and don't want to pay unemployment benefits on them either, yet they wind up being forced to pay benefits.” Buchen says this plan would correct that.

But Labor Attorney Victor Forberger says it could even deny benefits to people fired for minor infractions. For employers, “in the short term, they may have their unemployment taxes go down.

But it's going to create a lot of downward pressure on wages for folks. And wages will decline. And people’s ability to buy things will decline. So in the long term it's going to lead to some real problems in the state's economy.” Forberger says it would rewrite unemployment law in ways not seen since 1932, when Wisconsin set up the first unemployment compensation system in the nation.

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