Two of the state’s public employee unions are establishing a safety net for the 22,000 state workers who are laid off because of the state government shutdown.
AFSCME Council 5 has established food shelves across the state to help laid off state workers during the shutdown. Eliot Seide, with AFSCME Council 5, says his union is establishing food drives so laid off workers have options after their last partial paycheck on Friday.
“The only thing they’ll be eligible for is unemployment insurance which is up to half of their gross pay,” Seide said. “That’s not a lot of money. Our people make on average of $38,000 a year living paycheck to paycheck, so there’s likely to be tough times ahead.”
Seide and other union leaders say they continue to back Democratic Governor Mark Dayton in the budget impasse because they say the Republican budget plan cuts a larger portion of the state’s workforce and changes Minnesota’s collective bargaining rules. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders are at odds over the best way to erase a $5 billion budget deficit.
Jim Monroe with the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees says his union has reached agreement with a local credit union so unemployed workers can get loans to help make ends meet. He said MAPE also established hardship grants for those workers who can’t receive loans from the credit union.
“For people who are laid off, they aren’t on vacation,” Monroe said. “Their only income in a very quick period of time is unemployment insurance. If they can’t get loans, this is to help them bridge the gap that they may have.”
Workers will be eligible to start claiming unemployment next Monday. The shutdown occurred because Governor Dayton and GOP legislative leaders failed to reach a budget deal.