Delaware Gov. John Carney signed a bill Sunday that raises the region’s lowest unemployment benefit. Under the bill, the maximum weekly payment will rise from $330 to $400—a long-overdue increase since the last update in 2002.
The bill was marshaled through the General Assembly by Rep. Ed Osienski, a member of Sprinkler Fitters Local Union 669.
“The unemployment benefit provides a vital lifeline to residents who find themselves out of work due to no fault of their own. The bills don’t stop coming in, even if the pay does,” Osienski said after the bill was signed. “It’s troubling that we have not increased this weekly benefit since 2002, which has made it more difficult for Delawareans to make ends meet during these times when they’re most in need of this assistance.”
The Delaware AFL-CIO worked with Osienski and other allies on the bill, which passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. The increase was the first in 17 years and comes long after the recession of 2008 and 2009. The high jobless rate at that time left no room for an increase.
This victory comes on the heels of several other legislative wins that the Delaware AFL-CIO has achieved by working with union members elected to state office. Earlier achievements this year include expanding collective bargaining rights and worker training programs.