Metro-East News

Bill to extend steel worker unemployment benefits passes house committee

A bill that would extend unemployment insurance benefits for laid-off workers from U.S. Steel’s Granite City Works has moved out of an Illinois House committee.

On Tuesday, the House Labor and Commerce Committee, approved a bill sponsored by State Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Belleville, and State Rep. Daniel Beiser, D-Alton, that would extend unemployment insurance to 52 weeks for workers whose jobs were lost due to the idling of steel plants.

Those workers received only 26 weeks of unemployment insurance.

“Putting the employees of the steel mill back to work is still the top priority, but until that happens, we will continue working to provide any relief that is available,” Hoffman said. “Right now, that means extending unemployment insurance benefits for workers and their families.”

The bill has yet to be scheduled for a vote on the floor of the full House and would have to be approved by the Illinois Senate as well before it could be considered by Governor Bruce Rauner.

Granite City Steel was idled late last year, putting 2,000 employees out of work.

“We are doing everything we can to get our operations up and running again and put people back to work,” said Jason Chism, president of United Steelworkers Local 50. “Until that happens, we will continue to work with our local elected officials in order to do everything we can for the workers of the mill here in Granite City.”