Stephanie Ferguson

Senior Manager, Employment Policy

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Arkansas Passes Covid Vaccine Bill

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchison announced he will not sign nor veto the vaccine mandate exemption bills (Senate Bill 739/House Bill 1977) that were sent to his desk on October 13. The Governor‘s inaction will result in the companion bills becoming law in 90 days, barring judicial action.

Vaccine Mandates, Meet UI

The Delta variant is on the rise, employers are announcing back-to-office plans, and enhanced unemployment insurance (UI) benefits are coming to an end. These three roads are intersecting, prompting many questions around vaccine mandates and what they might mean for hesitant employees. Consistent with most other questions posed during the Pandemic, the answers are not so straightforward.

Can Employers Impose a Vaccine Mandate?

Yes, but there are exceptions.

Second USMCA Labor Complaint Reaches Remediation Agreement

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced on August 10, 2021, that the U.S. and Tridonex agreed to a course of remediation in response to a labor complaint filed against the auto parts manufacturer in May.

Up Next: Unemployment Insurance Reform

The ‘here and now’ has dominated the Unemployment Insurance (UI) conversation for the last 16 months—how much should the supplemental benefit be? How long should benefits last? How can fraudulent claims be minimized? These policy questions remain, but as expanded benefits inch closer to expiring, the conversation is shifting towards the future of UI.

UPDATE: USMCA Rapid Response Labor Mechanism

An earlier blog posted on July 8, 2021 described a USMCA complaint which alleged a violation of rights occurred at a GM facility in Sialo, Mexico. On that same day, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced that the U.S. and Mexico reached a remediation agreement which can be read in full here.

USMCA Rapid Response Mechanism Makes its Debut

History

In 2019, Mexico passed a labor reform bill intended to meet the requirements of the labor provisions agreed to in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which came into force July 1, 2020. By passing the bill and ratifying the USMCA, Mexico agreed to implement and enforce workers’ rights, including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.

ETA Guidance on UI Requirements Released

A White House Fact Sheet released in May reiterated that the “core purpose of the UI program is helping workers get back to work.” We have seen throughout the past few months, however, that enhanced benefits, relaxed work search requirements, and waivers to be able and available to work has left the U.S. in a labor shortage.

American Rescue Plan Heads to Biden’s Desk

Today, the House of Representatives passed the Senate version of the American Rescue Plan. The bill is slightly different than what President Biden proposed and the House originally passed. However, the sweeping piece of legislation still comes with the $1.9 trillion price tag. Similar to the relief measures before it, the American Rescue Plan extends, and makes changes to, emergency unemployment insurance (UI) programs just days before the programs expire.

ETA responds to President Biden’s Executive Order on Unemployment Insurance

The Department of Labor has released guidance detailing qualifying reasons for an individual to refuse work and still be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).