Yesterday, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) introduced legislation to protect workers’ health care benefits from being significantly altered or taken away during a lock-out. This bill targets employers who use this tactic as means to force their unionized employees back into the workplace as opposed to negotiating in good faith to resolve disputes.
Rep. Axne’s Locked Out Workers’ Healthcare Protection Act would create a separate unfair labor practice category, punishable by fines, for employers that engage in this practice. Current co-sponsors include Rep. Norton (DC-At-Large), Rep. Jackson Lee (TX-18), Rep. Titus (NV-01), Rep. Williams (GA-05), Rep. Pocan (WI-02), and Rep. Newman (IL-03). Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio is leading the Senate’s version of the Locked Out Workers’ Healthcare Protection Act.
“Workers have the right to collectively bargain for better wages, better working conditions, and better benefits, yet we see employers willing to put the health and safety of workers at risk by cutting off their benefits for the sake of getting them back in the door,” said Rep. Cindy Axne. “I’m pleased to join my colleagues in introducing this much-needed bill because the last thing that workers in Iowa and across the country should be worried about is losing access to health care during a lock-out.”
This legislation has been endorsed by: American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers (BCTGM), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Communications Workers of America (CWA), United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), and International Association of Iron Workers (IW).
Rep. Axne is continuing to advocate on behalf of Iowa workers. Earlier this year, the Congresswoman introduced the Striking Workers Healthcare Protection Act, which requires employers to continue providing health insurance to workers on strike.
“The BCTGM commends Representative Axne for introducing the Locked Out Workers Health Care Protection Act. We applaud her ongoing commitment to protect the health care benefits of striking and locked out workers. This legislation and Representative Axne’s Striking Workers Health Care Protection Act help level the playing field for workers during a labor dispute. Workers should never lose their health insurance simply because they are exercising their legal rights.” – The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Gran Millers’ International Union
“Three years into the pandemic, it’s clear that frontline workers are essential and we need to be respected, protected and paid. It’s shameful the lengths corporations will go to divide brave working people who are demanding higher wages, better benefits, and unions for all. Working people should not have to choose between healthcare and taking a stand for what is right for us, our patients and our communities. I’m proud to support the Locked Out Workers Healthcare Protection Act, a crucial step in rewriting the rules so working people, not corporations, have the power.” – Barbara Standerson, PT, MHS, and Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa
“When a company denies health care during a labor dispute, they aren’t just hurting a worker to gain leverage. They are attacking families of the worker, hurting spouses, and they are hurting children. We couldn’t be prouder of Congresswoman Axne for introducing this kind of legislation. She always puts people before profits, and families’ well-being above all else. We want to thank her for introducing this and we look forward to the day it becomes law.” – Charlie Wishman, President, Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO