Stage hands rally to extend jobless aid in Michigan
Lansing — About 35 unemployed stage hands and their supporters rallied Wednesday at the Michigan Capitol to urge lawmakers to extend the maximum length of unemployment benefits to 26 weeks.
Michigan is among six states that provides 20 weeks of jobless benefits.
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Representatives of Stagehands Local 26 and their backers said workers in the live entertainment industry have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic and restrictions on entertainment events. Local 26 said 90% of stage hands remain unemployed, many of them for as long as a year.
In late December, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill to extend unemployment benefits from a maximum of 20 weeks to 26 weeks through April. The maximum has been 26 weeks throughout most of the pandemic.
Leaders of the Republican-led Legislature argued the unemployment extension couldn't take effect because Whitmer vetoed another bill tied to the jobless extension that appropriated $220 million to bolster the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which is traditionally funded by businesses. Whitmer called the proposed taxpayer infusion of cash into the trust fund a corporate "giveaway."