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Extension of unemployment benefits for laid-off steel workers goes to governor


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Local elected representatives lauded their colleagues Thursday for passing their legislation extending unemployment benefits for laid off workers at the U.S. Steel plant in Granite City passed the House and Senate today with overwhelming bipartisan support.

“U.S. Steel workers and their families continue to suffer the disastrous effects of illegal trade practices in the steel market,” Jay Hoffman said. “I will continue fighting for any relief that can be provided until the mills are up and running again.”

State Reps. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, Dan Beiser, D-Alton, and Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, pushed Senate Bill 1941 as a response to the idling of the U.S. Steel mill in Granite City which has resulted in the layoffs of approximately 2,300 workers. The mill was idled in December 2015 due to an influx of cheap steel illegally imported into U.S. markets which has reduced the demand for domestic steel.

Hoffman and Beiser negotiated an agreement between labor groups, business groups and the Illinois Department of Employment Security that will extend the unemployment benefits laid-off workers receive from 26 weeks to 52 weeks during a one-year period. The amount of the extended weekly benefit would be the same as the weekly benefit of the regular unemployment period, plus dependents’ allowances. The bill passed both the House and the Senate and will now be sent to the governor for approval.

“Extending these benefits is an attempt to provide relief for local families, but it is not a solution to the problem,” Beiser said. “I will continue doing everything I can to support the steel workers in our community until the federal government takes action to stop the illegal dumping of foreign steel.”

Senate Bill 1941 would extend unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 52 weeks for steelworkers.  This legislation specifically addresses the ongoing struggles of laid off steel workers at US Steel in Granite City.

“Our steel workers have been hit hard by the influx of foreign steel and I believe extending unemployment benefits is a necessary step to assist these workers,” said Kay.  “The jobs provided by U.S. Steel are vital to our local economy and I will continue to explore whatever options are available to keep these jobs here.”

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