BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts lawmakers have approved a bill that would extend state unemployment benefits to about 1,200 natural gas workers who have been locked out by National Grid since July.
The measure sent to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk Monday is aimed at assuring workers continue to receive benefits when their initial unemployment compensation period ends next month.
Whether that will be necessary remains to be seen. National Grid and two unions representing the workers have issued a joint statement declaring a “shared intent” to reach a contract agreement by Friday.
House leaders originally wanted the utility to bear the cost for the continued unemployment benefits, but later accepted a Senate amendment to fund the extended benefits through the state’s unemployment insurance system, which is paid for through taxes on all Massachusetts businesses.
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