Cuts to Unemployment Benefits Set for Senate Hearing, "Right to Work" Constitutional Amendment Moves to Full Finance

Before we dive into this week's legislative update, we'd like to take a moment to once again mourn the sudden, tragic, and heartbreaking loss of CWA Local 3808 President Debbie Sisco and her daughter, Marie, earlier this week. Like many of you, we are still in shock and disbelief over what has happened. No amount of words can truly express our grief. Debbie was an integral and irreplaceable part of our Tennessee labor movement, and her passing leaves a massive void in our union family. On Tuesday, State Representative John Ray Clemmons honored Debbie's life and legacy while also reminding his colleagues that there are often grave consequences to the legislation that is passed. We continue to send our prayers to Debbie's family, friends, and all of the members of CWA Local 3808 and will miss her strong and steady leadership terribly.

As we continue to prepare for the legislative week ahead, our most closely-watched bills remain the same: cuts to unemployment benefits (HB 1039/SB 1402) and the "Right to Work" constitutional amendment (HJR 0072). After passing out of the House Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee on a voice vote this past Wednesday, HJR 0072 will be heard in the House Finance, Ways & Means Committee on Tuesday (April 20th) at 3:00 p.m. CT. We cannot emphasize this enough: the push to enshrine Tennessee's "Right to Work" law in the state constitution is one of the Republican supermajority's top legislative priorities and has the support of Governor Bill Lee. They will undoubtedly put unlimited pressure on their members to ensure its passage.

That's where your continued help is needed. Once again, to those of you who have sent one (or several) of the nearly 900 e-mails and made countless phone calls over the past couple of months, we are very grateful for your efforts. It's truly having an impact and legislators are paying attention. Keeping up that same momentum over these final weeks of session will be very important. As we have asked almost weekly since January, please continue to contact your legislator and ask them to vote "NO" on HJR 0072. You can do so by clicking on the blue button below. Depending on the results of Tuesday's committee meeting, this could come before the full House as soon as Thursday or next Monday. Don't forget to reference the House version (HJR 0072) of this amendment when making a call or sending an e-mail. If you're not sure exactly what to say, that's okay! Both the pre-written letter and the number to call will provide you with some suggestions. You can also check out our digital toolkit with additional messaging, talking points, and much more.

It has also come to our attention that some of our affiliates are planning to come to the Capitol on Tuesday to meet with legislators ahead of the committee meeting and attend the hearing. For those of you who anticipate doing so (or would like to do so), please be aware that masks must be worn in the Cordell Hull Building at all times. In addition, some legislators are still only meeting with constituents virtually so you must set an appointment and ensure that visitors are being accepted in a particular office.

Click here and ask your state representative to vote "NO" on HJR 0072!

Lawmakers are still continuing to push additional legislation that would be harmful to working families. This week, the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee will hear SB 1402 for the first time this session. As a reminder, this is a caption bill that would reduce the amount of time that someone could draw unemployment benefits from 26 weeks, to as low as 12 weeks. While the number is dependent upon several factors, including the current monthly unemployment rate, no Tennessean could receive benefits for more than 20 weeks. Rather than ensure that Tennesseans can make ends meet and provide for their families while looking for a job, legislators want to shame them into not relying on the government for help at a vulnerable time. Working families have suffered enough and do not need yet another attack that has now made headlines across the state. The House version of this bill has been placed behind the budget but could come back up at any moment. 

Tell your legislator: don't cut Tennessee's unemployment benefits!