Connecticut Offers Health Insurance Option to Striking Employees

While President Biden says he is the most pro-union president in history, many legislators in Connecticut seem determined to make theirs one of the most pro-union states. Although proponents have failed so far in annual efforts to make strikers eligible for unemployment compensation benefits, they have now managed to give them access to state-sponsored health insurance.

Effective October 1, 2023, Connecticut employees whose health care coverage has been terminated by an employer because of a strike, lockout, or other labor dispute will be eligible for special enrollment in state health insurance programs.


On June 28, 2023, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed Public Act. No. 23-172, which repeals and replaces Section 38a-1084 of the Connecticut General Statutes. The amendment creates a special enrollment period for employees whose health care coverage is terminated by an employer due to a labor dispute. This amendment garnered wide support, with not a single state representative in the house or senate voting against it.

The special enrollment period will allow employees engaged in labor disputes1 to enroll in health insurance through Access Health CT, the state’s health insurance exchange. Previously, employees who lost employer-sponsored health insurance for participating in labor disputes could not enroll in state health insurance programs.  The amendment now permits the exchange to offer such employees an enrollment period not otherwise provided by federal regulations under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Looking Forward

This health insurance legislation fell short of the original aim of union advocates in Connecticut to force employers to allow strikers to retain their employer-provided health insurance.  Employers can expect additional legislative efforts of that sort on both state and national levels.2  Connecticut employers should stay alert for further legislative efforts to protect or subsidize striking employees during the 2024 session. Focal points will likely include renewed efforts to provide strikers with unemployment compensation benefits and to force employers to let them continue their health insurance. Given the ingenuity displayed by proponents so far, it is not unreasonable to expect that even more ambitious union efforts could still be unveiled.

See Footnotes

1 The bill does not define labor disputes; presumably, this includes lockouts and strikes.

2 In 2022, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced in the House of Representatives the Striking Workers Healthcare Protection Act, which aims to require employers to provide health insurance to employees involved in strikes. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor, which has taken no action on it yet.  

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.