By Megan Sayles
AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
msayles@afro.com

Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill issued a preliminary injunction, July 13, blocking Gov. Larry Hogan’s attempt to terminate federal unemployment benefits. Now, the enhanced payments will continue into September when the federal funds are set to discontinue. 

The ruling took place just before the temporary restraining order that Fletcher-Hill issued on July 3 was meant to expire, and while the governor’s office said it disagreed with the decision, it does not intend to fight the injunction. 

“Once again Larry Hogan’s loss is Maryland families’ win. These extended unemployment benefits have been a lifeline for families struggling to find work and child care during the pandemic,” said Zach Hudson, spokesperson for the Maryland Democratic Party. “Unfortunately, Larry Hogan has obsessively tried to cut off this critical aid prematurely just to score points with national Republicans.” 

Gov. Hogan on June 1 originally announced that he would officially pull the plug on the payments in early July, two months before President Biden and Congress intended. The enhanced unemployment benefits include an extra $300 weekly with expanded eligibility to those who are self-employed, work part time or do not typically qualify for unemployment because of insufficient work history. 

His announcement led to two lawsuits organized by UNITE HERE Local 7, a union that represents hospitality workers, and the Unemployed Workers Union, which was launched by Baltimore’s Peoples Power Assembly. Sharon Black, a representative for the Unemployed Workers Union, said Tuesday’s court decision is a major victory. Now, the union intends to continue its legal battle against the Maryland Department of Labor. 

“This addresses a part of our lawsuit. The second part revolves around the thousands of workers who have not seen a penny of their benefits, some for as long as a year, held up in the dysfunctional Labor Department’s Unemployment Division,” said Alec Summerfield, attorney for the Unemployed Workers Union.

Help us Continue to tell OUR Story and join the AFRO family as a member – subscribers are now members!  Join here!