The press conference hosted Monday afternoon by several organizations -- the N.C. Justice Center, AFL-CIO, NC MomsRising and AARP -- was held just hours before the state House is slated to consider a Republican-backed measure to overhaul the state's unemployment system. The bill, which was approved last week by the House Finance Committee, hasn't yet been taken up by the Senate.
Robert Riggins, a benefits administrator at the Freightliner plant in Mount Holly, urged legislators to try living on the lower weekly unemployment checks called for in the bill. The legislature is considering cutting the maximum benefits paid to unemployed workers by roughly one third, from $535 a week to $350.
"That bill is devastating to North Carolina families and North Carolina workers," Riggins said. Last week Freightliner's corporate parent, Daimler Trucks North America, announced that it could lay off up to 1,200 workers at its North Carolina plants in Gastonia, Mount Holly and the Rowan County town of Cleveland.