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State Senate approves creation of work-share program

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MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The Wisconsin Senate has voted to let entire groups of workers collect unemployment benefits if their hours get reduced.

That way, companies would not have to lay off just a few of the employees.

The Assembly approved the same measure last month, so it now goes to Governor Scott Walker for his signature. All Democrats voted no when the bill passed 18-15 Tuesday.

They agreed with the concept, but they said the bill should have language that protects workers covered under union contracts. Otherwise, Stevens Point Democrat Julie Lassa said it would just create more uncertainty for businesses, and more stress when there doesn’t need to be any.

But Republicans said the written protections would be redundant, because union workers are already protected by law. The state could get federal money both to implement the change, and provide jobless benefits to those whose hours are cut.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says two dozen other states already have such a system – and he says it would help people keep their jobs and businesses keep skilled employees during hard times.

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