Indiana union calls governor’s unemployment decision ‘cruel’

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) pre-recorded his State of the State speech before it was...
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) pre-recorded his State of the State speech before it was broadcast on television and online, rather than before the typical joint session of the General Assembly.(Office of Gov. Eric Holcomb)
Updated: May. 23, 2021 at 10:54 AM EDT
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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (AP) - The Indiana AFL-CIO is criticizing Gov. Eric Holcomb’s decision to withdraw the state from federal programs providing an extra $300 in weekly payments to unemployed workers and expanded jobless benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The labor union said it cost the state nothing to remain in the programs, arguing that they have provided millions of dollars a week to families who could soon face having no income.

Holcomb announced this past week that the Indiana would leave those federal programs effective June 19. Many businesses blame their difficulty filling job openings on the extra $300 weekly payment and programs that provide jobless aid to self-employed or gig workers and to people who have been unemployed for more than six months.

Indiana AFL-CIO President Brett Voorhies said Holcomb was “trying to coerce Hoosiers into low-paying jobs.”

“If he really wants to get Hoosiers back to work, he should focus on making sure parents have affordable childcare, more Hoosiers are fully vaccinated, and the available jobs are good, union jobs that pay living wages and provide good benefits,” Voorhies said. “Choosing to eliminate financial aid to Hoosier families is cruel and unnecessary.”

The $300 payments have more than doubled Indiana’s average $280 weekly unemployment payment, which has a maximum of $390 a week, according to the state Department of Workforce Development. The changes taking effect June 19 could cut off or reduce unemployment benefits to more than 220,000 people in the state.

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