By Voting to Cut Unemployment Benefits, Republican Supermajority Furthers its Anti-Worker Agenda

Following a final vote in both chambers on legislation that would cut the amount of time that someone could draw unemployment benefits, Tennessee AFL-CIO President Billy Dycus issued the following statement. President Dycus is also a member of the State Unemployment Compensation Advisory Council.

"The past 24 hours have confirmed what we unfortunately already knew to be true: Tennessee workers are viewed as disposable and lazy by the Republican supermajority. Cutting the amount of time that someone could draw unemployment benefits by more than half while we are still dealing with the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is downright cruel. Tacking on a meager increase in weekly benefits does not make this pill any easier to swallow, especially when legislators also voted to give themselves a pay raise.

Tennesseans are some of the hardest-working people in the country, and they want to work. Unfortunately, many of the jobs that are available do not pay a living wage, provide little to no benefits, and are unable to sustain a family. Contrary to what some Republican legislators may insinuate, Tennesseans do not want to make a living off of receiving unemployment for months on end. In fact, the average amount of time that someone receives unemployment benefits is about 16 weeks. Instead of ensuring that their constituents can make ends meet while looking for a job, legislators want to shame them into taking whatever is available while employers save as much as possible so that state leaders can meet their goal of having between $2 and $3 billion in an unemployment trust fund that will only benefit businesses.

Working families have suffered enough. Any state representative or senator who supported this anti-worker legislation should be ashamed to show their faces in their home districts. Voters elected these lawmakers to represent their interests and speak up on their behalf, not to cut off a critical lifeline while they’re looking the other way."