Georgia Says

Savannah (Ga.) Morning News on unemployment benefits:

The concept is simple:

Unemployment benefits are meant for workers who lost jobs through no fault of their own and are actively looking for other employment. They're not designed for seasonal workers who already have jobs, but need money to tide themselves over when they're not working.

That's a discrepancy that Georgia lawmakers hope to fix.

A House committee is scheduled to vote on legislation that would prevent the private employees of school contractors from collecting unemployment benefits during Christmas and summer holidays. This matter surfaced in Savannah and elsewhere in Georgia last year, when the Georgia Department of Labor told about 64,000 bus drivers, custodians, traffic guards and cafeteria workers that they couldn't receive unemployment benefits during the summer holidays.

These workers erupted. The U.S. Labor Department later directed the state to pay benefits, saying the state was incorrectly interpreting Georgia law related to school workers.

So what must happen now is simple: State legislators must fix the law.

House Bill 714 is sponsored by the chairman of the House Industry and Labor Committee that is considering it, Rep. Mark Hamilton, R-Cumming. He happens to be the founder of a temporary-staffing agency. So he knows how some private employers play the game, which is unfair to Georgia employers.

The bill seeks to restore the state Department of Labor practice before the federal government ruled that, in the absence of a specific legal restriction, the state must pay unemployment benefits to private workers idled by school holidays. Teachers and other staffers working directly for school districts aren't affected. Their pay is based on a year-round work schedule, even though they don't work summers or when school isn't in session.

Instead, the targets are private companies that contract with school systems. They don't pay their workers based on 12 months of work and don't spread out paychecks through the year. Instead, these firms consider their workers off the job when school isn't in session — and hence unemployed and eligible for state benefits until school begins again in the fall.

These workers do honest, important and necessary work. It's wrong to knowingly underpay them, with the knowledge that other Georgia employers will be making up the difference.

A day's work should mean a day's pay. Not a paid day off at someone else's expense.



More Opinion

Georgia Says

Savannah Morning News on police standoff in Sydney, Australia: Experts seemed divided about whether the self-proclaimed Islamic "sheikh" wh ... Read More


Neighbors helping neighbors

“This is what it’s all about. This is what makes this place so great to work because we work together.” That quote could h ... Read More


Thank those in uniform

The Newnan Fire Department recently held its annual Christmas dinner at Fire Station 1. During the festivities, 21 members were awarded for ... Read More


Rants, Raves & Really?!?

A look back at last week’s highs, lows and whatevers: RANT: When people offer to help you, and help you keep from getting others conta ... Read More


Georgia Says

The Augusta Chronicle on Sen. Landrieu loss: CNN seems to want to believe voters just weren't listening to Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu's ra ... Read More

Expansion of water authority positive move

Coweta County’s Water and Sewerage Authority is getting ready to add new members. And it’s a needed move. Currently, the board h ... Read More