Minnesota legislation seeks to help locked-out workers


Minnesota HF 602 would provide a measure of protection for workers victimized by “lockouts” during labor disputes. Note that in this day and age, “labor dispute” is often code for what happens when corporations seek to slash worker pay and benefits, pretty much just because they can, for the sake of short-term profiteering and “shareholder value.” It’s the sort of incredibly short-sighted, selfish, vindictive crap that unfortunately didn’t die with the figure primarily associated with it (perhaps not entirely fairly), the late Milton Friedman.

The legislation, HF 602, would extend unemployment benefits for the duration of a lockout and charge a penalty to an employer that initiates the action. The bill’s lead author, Rep. Joe Atkins, D-South St. Paul, said the plan has bipartisan support.

“Both Democrats and Republicans are ticked off,” he said. “Entities come in with big promises of job creation and stimulating the economy, and then take our money, only to turn around and do the exact opposite – lock people out, not let ‘em work, cause unemployment to go up and unemployment benefits to skyrocket.”

The Employer Lockout Accountability Act also would restrict public subsidies for certain organizations that engage in employee lockouts.

Based on my understanding of this page from the Minnesota legislative website, this bill remains alive and kicking. (Bills that haven’t made it through at least one committee, soon, are dead for the session.)

If this passes into law, it would undoubtedly be swiftly subjected to a court challenge. It’s hard to see the majority of the current U.S. Supreme Court upholding it (not because of any valid legal basis, but because said majority are corporatist a**holes through and through), but that august body includes several feeble old conservative members overdue for retirement, and perhaps the composition of SCOTUS would change before it gets there.