Elected officials from both the Georgia Working Families Legislative Caucus and the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus held a press conference Friday, September 14, calling on Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler to comply with the United States Department of Labor’s ruling on unemployment benefits by restoring the unemployment benefits for thousands of private sector workers in the state of Georgia. “The unilateral decision by the commissioner is unfair, unjust and unwarranted” said Rep. Virgil Fludd, co-chair of the Working Families Legislative Caucus. “The employers have already paid into the unemployment trust fund so the money is already there and does not come from taxpayers.” The legislative caucuses chose to hold the press conference in response to Labor Commissioner Mark Butler’s refusal to comply with the United States Department of Labor’s ruling on unemployment benefits. Although Butler sent a letter to the United States Department of Labor stating that the issue of unemployment insurance for private sector seasonal employees is a states rights issue, the U.S. Department of Labor sent a letter to Butler that instructed him to retract his decision that fails to comply with federal law. During the press conference, state legislators highlighted this letter from the U.S. Department of Labor and called for a full restoration of unemployment benefits for the thousands of private sector employees affected by the actions of Commissioner Butler. “We urge Commissioner Mark Butler to retreat from his reckless decision,” said Sen. Nan Orrock, co-chair of the Working Families Legislative Caucus.“We insist that he comply with the ruling of the United States Department of Labor and fully restore the unemployment benefits for the affected workers. For more than 30 years, employees of private contractors providing services to educational institutions have received this benefit. Butler has overstepped his power and must be reined in.” “This rash action by Commissioner Mark Butler impacts more than 32,000 hard- working Georgians and their families,” said Sen. Emanuel Jones, chairman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus. “Shockingly, his actions also have a very negative effect on the health of our state’s economy when families and local economies are denied these funds.” The press conference also featured Chiquita Allison, a laid-off bus driver who described the dire straits in which her family has been placed by Butler’s denial of her lawful benefits. The mother of a 9-month-old daughter, Allison is facing repossession of her automobile and the prospect of being evicted from her home due to Butler’s action. The Georgia Working Families Legislative Caucus and the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus are both requesting an immediate meeting with Butler to resolve the situation, as well as calling on the U.S. Department of Labor to make a speedy response to Butler’s refusal to comply with their ruling that was issued in early August.
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