Seasonal workers win battle over unemployment benefits - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Seasonal workers to receive unemployment benefits

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

School bus drivers have won the battle and some cash. Georgia lawmakers voted against a bill that would stop the unemployment benefits for all seasonal workers.

The state must now pay more than $8 million to about 4,000 seasonally jobless workers who were denied payments last year. After a long legal battle, area school system employees are rejoicing.

"I am overwhelmed for my fellow workers and for the monitors and for the people struggled so hard to get us this far," said Driver Betty Milligan.

Several local public school employees are breathing a sigh of relief after Georgia Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler announced Thursday the state will pay the denied unemployment benefits from last year. This comes after legislation to support denying payments failed in the general assembly.

"It means a whole lot to people that have been devastated by him not paying them," said Teamsters Union Local 728 spokesman Jerome Irwin. "People have lost their homes, their automobiles, they lost everything because this man refused to pay them unemployment. Now they will get some of it back. They will never be able to replenish what they lost."

Irwin says they were waiting for a day in court with Commissioner Butler after he refused to follow a federal mandate to pay back seasonal unemployment benefits refused from last summer.

"We've been to congress," said Irwin. "We did everything we could legally do to try and get this man to get this man to pay this money."

Thursday's decision brings tears to Irwin's eyes, coming 45 years to the day that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated while supporting striking sanitation workers in Memphis.

"He was assassinated fighting for workers. It is a great day for us," said Irwin.

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