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Wednesday, March 27, 2013 - 1:20pm

Jobless Benefits Bill Close To Passage

A bill that would deny jobless benefits to school workers employed by private firms during holidays is close to becoming law. The state Senate passed the bill and sent it back to the House for approval.

By federal law, bus drivers, janitors and others employed by public school systems can’t apply for jobless benefits during summers and holidays.

Employees of a private third-party contractor doing the same work, however, can apply.

Atlanta Republican, Rep. Ed Lindsey, the sponsor of the House bill, says it would simply level the playing field.

“One group works in the private sector and one group works in the public sector," he said in an interview at the Capitol. "Some are eligible for unemployment insurance and others are not and that’s simply inequitable.”

Foes say it’s an anti-union bill.

But Charlie Flemming, with the AFL-CIO union, says not all of the 60,000 workers affected by the bill belong to unions.

“It’s one thing to go after your arch-enemy, the unions," he said. "But it’s another thing to go after everyday Georgians just trying to put food on their table.”

The measure is a combination of House and Senate bills.

House lawmakers have to OK the Senate’s changes before sending it to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature. And they expect to do so on Thursday, the last day of the session.

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