Striking workers seek jobless benefits

CHARLESTON (AP) — More than 500 striking Constellium Rolled Products workers are seeking state unemployment benefits.

Under state law, workers involved in a labor dispute can apply for unemployment compensation.

The Charleston Daily Mail says 570 workers filed unemployment claims last week. A three-member panel will be appointed by the state Unemployment Compensation Board of Review to determine whether the workers are eligible for benefits.

More than 700 members of United Steelworkers Local 5668 went on strike Aug. 5 after contract talks broke down. The Ravenswood aluminum rolling plant is Jackson County’s largest employer.

West Virginia’s trust fund has fluctuated in recent months, from a low of $38.9 million in March 2011 to today’s $154.7 million.

In 2009, many worried that the fund could run dry and federal loans would be required, but the Legislature raised the tax employers pay from the first $8,000 of each worker’s wages to the first $12,000. Were the fund balance to climb to $220 million at the end of the year, the taxable wage base would drop to $9,000.

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