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What Public Benefits are Available to Workers on Strike

Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid LSC Funded

Information

When a person participates in a strike at work, it may affect their eligibility for certain public benefits.

SNAP (Food Assistance)

Federal law requires that if an individual participates in a strike at work and then applies for SNAP benefits, DHS must look at the household’s income the day before the strike occurs. If the household would not have been eligible the day before the strike, then the application for SNAP benefits will be denied.  If the household would have been eligible the day before the strike, then DHS must compare the striker’s income before the strike with the striker’s current income and use the higher of the two to determine how much SNAP assistance the household will receive.

 
FIP (Family Assistance Program)


Iowa law says that if a parent who is applying for FIP or already receiving FIP is on strike and will be on strike until the last day of the month, then the application will be denied or the ongoing benefits will be cancelled for that month.  


Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA)
Just like with FIP, Iowa law says that if a person is participating in a strike on the last day of the month, that person is ineligible for RCA, and the spouse and children of that person will also be ineligible for RCA.  

What does it mean to participate in a strike?
The definition of a striker for all three of these programs is the same:
1) Picketing; and/or
2) Drawing strike pay; and/or
3) Refusing to cross the picket line in order to work (unless the refusal is based on fear of injury, death, or trauma from harassment)

Who is NOT considered a striker?
For SNAP, the following are not considered strikers:
-A person affected by a lockout (where the employer closes the workplace).
-A striker who was exempt from work registration requirements the day before the strike. However, this does not apply to people who were exempt from work registration only because they are employed.
-A person unable to work because other people are striking.
-Anyone who is not participating in a strike. The person must meet all these requirements:
• The person is not picketing and does not intend to picket during the strike, and
• The person does not draw strike pay, and
• The person either crosses the picket line and goes to work or provides a signed statement indicating the person is willing to return to work but does not want to cross the picket line for fear of injury, death, or trauma from harassment. DHS determines whether such a risk to the person’s physical or emotional well-being exists.

For FIP and RCA, the following individuals are not considered to be participating in a strike (must meet all conditions):
• The person is not picketing and does not intend to picket during the strike, and
• The person does not draw strike pay, and
• The person either:
• Crosses the picket line and goes to work, or
• Provides a signed statement indicating the person is willing to return to work but does not want to cross the picket line for fear of injury, death, or trauma from harassment. DHS determines whether such a risk to the person’s physical or emotional well-being exists.

 

Last Review and Update: Oct 21, 2021