The Daily Kos. "But it seems House Speaker Paul Ryan wanted to save it in order to make a splash when Donald Trump signs it this week, because stigmatizing jobless workers is always worth more attention in his book."" />
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Labor News


Clawson: Got Laid Off? Republicans Plan to Make You Pee in a Cup for Your Unemployment Benefits

03/20/2017

"Last week, Congressional Republicans pushed through a measure undoing Obama-era rules for when states can drug test applicants for unemployment insurance," writes Laura Clawson in The Daily Kos. "But it seems House Speaker Paul Ryan wanted to save it in order to make a splash when Donald Trump signs it this week, because stigmatizing jobless workers is always worth more attention in his book.

"There are so many problems with this. As a letter from nearly 50 civil rights, criminal justice, faith, and labor organizations points out, there are already measures in place to prevent drug users from getting unemployment benefits—for instance, someone whose firing had anything to do with drug use is not eligible for benefits in 'virtually all' states, and six states 'have passed legislation equating a failed or refused pre-employment drug screen with refusing suitable work.' Drug testing unemployment applicants is also a waste of public money, since repeated experience has shown that very few people will be screened out by the tests.

"The letter details two other serious problems.

"As much as they would like it to be the case, Republicans have not (yet) repealed the Fourth Amendment, which means that 'Generally, government-mandated drug testing not based on individualized suspicion is unconstitutional.' And federal court decisions have blocked states from requiring drug testing for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families applicants for exactly that reason: it’s unconstitutional.

"Additionally:

"Working people paid for this insurance policy, and jobless workers earned the right to access UI through their service to their employer. Proposals to drug test UI beneficiaries needlessly stigmatize and punish jobless workers and their families who are trying to get back on their feet. If legislators have genuine concerns about drug use, there are far better ways to respond than targeting and stigmatizing the unemployed.

"But targeting and stigmatizing unemployed people is exactly the point. It’s part of the Republican divide-and-conquer strategy: seeking to convince people with jobs that people without jobs deserve what they get, seeking to keep people scared and compliant, and seeking to keep people from noticing that Republican policies make life worse for working people—whether they’re on the job or looking for one."

The Daily Kos 3/20

   


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