New York State Reduces Strikers’ Waiting Period for Unemployment Benefits

March 4, 2020

On February 6, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Senate Bill 7310 into law. Under the new law, the amount of time striking workers in the private sector must wait before they are eligible to receive unemployment benefits is reduced from seven weeks to two weeks. Moreover, the law modifies a bill adopted last year, which provided that striking employees are eligible to receive unemployment benefits after only one week. 

The seven-week waiting period was thought by some to serve as a deterrent to strikes, while others thought the waiting period was too long and presented a hardship to striking workers. The reduction of this waiting period has the potential to reduce an employer’s economic leverage in collective bargaining negotiations as striking employees will now be eligible to receive unemployment benefits after only two weeks. As a result of the change in the law, striking employees and their unions may be more willing to initiate a strike or to prolong a strike to improve their bargaining position. 

Takeaway for Employers

Employers should consider how this change in the law will affect their labor negotiations. As discussed above, the new law will most likely increase a union’s willingness to initiate a strike or prolong a strike in the hopes of improving its bargaining position. Accordingly, employers should update their existing bargaining strategies accordingly.

These materials were prepared by Putney, Twombly, Hall & Hirson LLP prior to their combination with Bond, Schoeneck & King for informational purposes only and are not intended as legal advice or advertisement of legal services. Transmission of the information is not confidential and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship or an attorney-client privileged communication. You should not act upon any of the information contained in these materials without seeking the advice of your own professional legal counsel.