- Published: Monday, December 19, 2016 02:01 PM
Laid-off steelworkers soon may be receiving some relief. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law Monday a measure sponsored by State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) and State Representative Jay Hoffman (D-Belleville) that will extend the unemployment benefits for laid-off steel workers.
Since April 2015, the Granite City Works plant has faced a temporary closure leading to layoffs of more than 2,000 employees. While the plant is running at partial capacity now, many of those who are still laid-off are facing another holiday season with no paycheck.
“It’s unfortunate the U.S. steel market has seen such a decline over the past years. Granite City Works is a major part of our local economy,” Hoffman said. “When these men and women are out of work, we all feel the burden. Although this measure will provide some much needed relief to these men and women, we need to get that plant running at full capacity again.”
Current Illinois law provides unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks during a one-year period. The legislation that was signed into law extends unemployment benefits for steelworkers, who were laid off between April 1, 2015, and the effective date of the bill, which is immediate.
“This measure is so important in our community,” said Haine. “These individuals are facing a lot of uncertainty right now, and we need to do all we can to help them. We also need to get to the root of this issue and stop the flooding of cheap, low-grade Asian steel into the market. The steel industry was once a thriving industry in our area. We need to bring it back.”
Under the proposed legislation, workers are eligible if they have been laid off from a steel manufacturer, have exhausted their unemployment benefits and are not receiving federal benefits.
The Illinois Department of Employment security will administer the program to extend the benefits.