September 17-- Elected officials from both the Georgia Working Families Legislative Caucus and the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus held a press conference last Friday calling on Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler to restore the unemployment benefits for thousands of private sector workers in the State of Georgia. This press conference was held in response to Labor Commissioner Mark Butler’s letter to the United States Department of Labor stating that the issue of unemployment insurance for private sector seasonal employees is a states rights issue.
At the event, elected officials highlighted the letter from the U.S. Department of Labor that instructed the Commissioner to retract his decision that fails to comply with federal law. Legislators called for full restoration of unemployment benefits for the thousands of private sector employees affected by the actions of Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler.
“We urge Commissioner Mark Butler to retreat from his reckless decision. We insist that he comply with the ruling of the United States Department of Labor and fully restore the unemployment benefits for the affected workers. For more than 30 years, employees of private contractors providing services to educational institutions have received this benefit. Butler has overstepped his power and must be reined in,” said Senator Nan Orrock, Co-Chair of the Working Families Legislative Caucus.
“This rash action by Commissioner Mark Butler impacts more than 32,000 hard- working Georgians and their families. Shockingly, his actions also have a very negative effect on the health of our state’s economy when families and local economies are denied these funds,” said Senator Emanuel Jones, Chairman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus.
Senator Jones introduced Chiquita Allison, a laid-off bus driver who described the dire straits in which her family has been placed by Butler’s denial of her lawful benefits. The mother of a 9-month-old daughter, Mrs. Allison is facing repossession of her automobile and the prospect of being evicted from her home due to Butler’s action.
“The unilateral decision by the Commissioner is unfair, unjust and unwarranted. The employers have already paid into the unemployment trust fund so the money is already there and does not come from taxpayers,” said Rep. Virgil Fludd, Co-Chair of the Working Families Legislative Caucus.
The two legislative caucuses are requesting an immediate meeting with Commissioner Mark Butler to resolve the situation, as well as calling on the U.S. Department of Labor to make a speedy response to Butler’s refusal to comply with their ruling that was issued in early August.