Bill Makes It Illegal For Employers To Revoke Workers’ Health Insurance During Strike

From U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown’s website:

Today, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Striking Workers Healthcare Protection Act which would require employers to continue providing health insurance to workers exercising their right to strike, so working families aren’t forced off the health coverage they’ve earned and negotiated, and aren’t forced to pay out-of-pocket for potentially lifesaving health care.
“Too many times in Ohio and around the country, we’ve seen corporations kick their workers off their health coverage in an attempt to break a strike. Employers shouldn’t be able to cut off health insurance for workers and their families or threaten to as a way to silence workers,” said Sen. Brown. “Threatening the wellbeing of employees, their families and their communities because they’re exercising their right to strike for fair pay, good working conditions, and a voice in their workplace is unacceptable and shouldn’t be a tool employers can use to break a strike and force workers back into subpar conditions.”

The bill would create a separate unfair labor practice category, punishable by fines, for when employers cut or alter workers’ health insurance while the workers are on strike. The fines would vary based on their history of violations, size, the scope of the harm, and the public interest.
“When workers strike, they do so because they’re fighting for a level playing field for themselves, their coworkers and their families,” said Sen. Casey. “Employers should be coming to the table and negotiating with workers, not forcing them to choose between health care and their voice in the workplace. I’m proud to join my friend Senator Brown to introduce legislation to ensure employers can’t kick workers off their health care while they’re exercising their fundamental right to organize.”
As the pandemic has illustrated, health insurance can be the difference between life and death, prosperity or financial ruin. As more workers go on strike across the country, more companies are using this harmful tactic to try to break worker strikes.
  • GM dropped workers’ health insurance, including the coverage of workers in Ohio, during a 2019 national strike.
  • Members of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union (BCTGM) Local 37 have been without health care benefits since January 1 while on strike from their jobs at Rich Products at the Jon Donaire Desserts plant in Santa Fe Springs, California.
  • During the United Auto Workers strike last fall, John Deere threatened to cancel the health care coverage of thousands of striking employees across the Midwest before deciding to continue that coverage until a final contract was reached with UAW workers.
  • Warrior Met strikers represented by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) had their health care coverage cut off when they went on strike in April 2021 and the union has been paying the health care coverage for those members since the strike began.
The legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Alex Padilla (D-CA). Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03).
For the rest of the press release, visit Senator Sherrod Brown’s website here.

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