Legislators request unemployment assistance for independent contractors

Federal funds for hairdressers, high tech coders and others

State Sen. Karen Keiser

State Sen. Karen Keiser

The Senate and House Democratic caucuses have requested that the federal government unlock disaster unemployment assistance for thousands of independent contractors in Washington who are losing work during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), who authored the letter, said:

“The American workplace has changed and thousands of workers who are independent contractors—from hairdressers to high tech coders—do not qualify for unemployment benefits,” Keiser said in a Washington State Senate Democrats news release on March 24. “During this public health crisis that is a hardship they should not be forced to endure.”

The full text of the letter:

Dear Members of the Washington State Congressional Delegation:

In these uncertain times, we need to act to protect all workers, especially those who don’t have access to unemployment insurance assistance. These workers include those considered by employers to be independent contractors in the gig economy and those who are self-employed. We are hearing from these workers about the economic difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This threatens their livelihoods and the strength of the broader economy.

Therefore, on behalf of the Senate and House Democratic Caucuses, we ask the Congressional Delegation to work with the Administration to ensure that Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) can be applied to pandemics in the same manner as to natural disasters when a federal emergency is declared. This will enable more Americans to have access to Unemployment Insurance (UI) without some of the standard eligibility requirements.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance would provide financial assistance to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster and who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits.

When a major disaster has been declared by the President, DUA is generally available to any unemployed worker or self-employed individual who lived, worked, or was scheduled to work in the disaster area at the time of the disaster; and who, due to the disaster:

* no longer has a job or a place to work

* cannot reach the place of work

* cannot work due to damage to the place of work

* cannot work because of an injury caused by the disaster.

DUA benefits are payable to individuals for up to 26 weeks after the date the disaster was declared by the President.

While the President approved Washington’s request to declare a major disaster in Washington related to COVID-19, the Administration is still considering the request to activate DUA as part of the declaration. We urge the Congressional Delegation to request the Administration unlock these vital benefits for our workers and businesses.

We understand the tremendous challenges you face in responding to the coronavirus crisis. Access to these additional benefits will make sure businesses and workers have a greater ability to get through this challenging situation. Thank you for considering this path to extend a safety net for our constituents who are considered independent contractors and who are self-employed and shore up our country’s economy during this uncertain time.

Sincerely,

Senator Karen Keiser

Chair, Labor & Commerce Committee

Representative Mike Sells

Chair, Labor & Workplace Standards Committee

Senator Andy Billig

Majority Leader, State Senate

Representative Laurie Jenkins

Speaker, State House of Representatives


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bothell-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bothell-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Northwest

Screenshot from Gov. Jay Inslee’s press conference on Aug. 5, 2020.
Inslee says schools in virus hot spots should stay closed

King County among high-risk counties; several school districts will have remote learning in the fall.

King County Election headquarters in Renton on Aug. 4 for the primary election. Haley Ausbun/staff photo
Inslee and Culp lead governor race; incumbent Dems ahead for Congress | Statewide results

Early results for governor, state schools chief, attorney general and more.

Democrats dominate King County legislative races | Election results

Here are the latest results for King County legislative candidates in the… Continue reading

Primary election 2020: Who will emerge as Inslee’s challenger?

Voting ends Tuesday in an election without big rallies and fund-raisers and face-to-face debates

Sex ed, local control at heart of race for WA state schools chief

Incumbent Chris Reykdal faces five foes who argue he’s pushing too many state policies on school districts.

Regional public sector employers extend teleworking until 2021

Three counties, six cities and two ports announce decision

State Department of Health launches CORONA survey

Asks for residents to answer questions online or by phone about COVID-19 impact

Stock photo
Washington Education Association calls for school year to begin with distance learning

Group demands safety first in any plans to return to school this fall

Sound Transit seeks more federal funding to offset COVID-19 losses

Joins other transit agencies across nation to ask for relief package

Courtesy of governor.wa.gov
Inslee extends pause on counties advancing phases to July 28

A spike in cases could cause hospitalizations and deaths to rise soon.