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Jobs Still Disappearing in KY – What Rights do Workers Have?

April 6, 2009

Frankfort, KY – More than 30,000 jobs were lost nationwide every work day during March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Kentucky's unemployment rate stands at 9.2 percent – the highest the state has seen since 1986. As businesses scale back, or even close up shop, many employees have found themselves wondering what their rights are.

Anne Janks with Interfaith Worker Justice, a pro-union group, says her organization discovered that people were turning to churches for resources, so they designed a Web site with state-specific information to help. She points to getting employees proper pay and benefits as an important part of keeping the local economy alive.

"When workers don't get their pay, or lose a job that they actually had some protection against losing, don't get their unemployment; that's money that's not in the economy."

Janks says she's personally walked people through the legal tangle they find when they've been laid off and told they don't qualify for unemployment. People get embarrassed about pushing the issue, and she says state labor departments are very busy right now, while also working with scaled-back staff.

"So it's a very challenging environment. It is very, very difficult to get answers - whether you're private, whether you're public, whatever your industry."

Janks says Kentuckians nervous about their jobs should start keeping every piece of paper, pay stub, and communication from their companies in a file at home, should there be a need to contest an employer's actions. Check lists of useful documents are on the Web site: www.canmybossdothat.com.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - KY