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Politics & Government

Senate approves amendment to deny locked-out workers unemployment benefits

The state Senate has passed an amendment to a Job Service-North Dakota bill – that says locked out workers are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

It comes in the wake of a ruling in the case of locked out American Crystal workers. The state Supreme Court ruled on a three to two vote that the Crystal workers were eligible for those benefits. The amendment would not affect them.

The amendment brought an impassioned plea from Sen. Phillip Murphy (D-Portland). He told his Senate colleagues a lockout raises a lot of questions for those workers.

"What is gonna happen now," said Murphy. "Am I going to have to sell the house? Am I going to have to move my kids out of school? Where am I going to look for a job?"

Murphy argued that unemployment compensation is meant to give workers a "hand-up" while they try and figure out what's happening with their lives.

But the amendment’s supporters say it clarifies the original intent of the language concerning unemployment compensation.

"I think we should stick to the principle of staying out of labor disputes," said Sen. John Andrist (R-Crosby).

The amendment passed 33 to 14. Another vote will be taken on the full bill later.

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