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Wis. GOP lawmakers, business leaders call for end to extra unemployment benefits

They argue this is affecting the ability of businesses to hire employees
Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 6:26 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher, (R - Green Bay), took part in a roundtable discussion Friday with business leaders and state lawmakers to discuss the problem and solutions of the labor shortage.

“It’s finding people. It’s finding workers -- people who have the basic skills who are willing to show up to work who can pass a drug test. They need human beings,” Gallagher said of the employment struggles he’s heard from the business community.

He spoke at the KI Learning Center in Bellevue.

On the agenda of the array leaders who spoke were the problems in finding job applicants. Gallagher proposed legislation called the National Signing Bonus Act as a way to encourage people to work by offering them a bonus for working.

As Action 2 News has reported, business leaders acknowledge that Northeast Wisconsin has a tight labor market. Still, on Friday those at the roundtable argued that the new enhanced unemployment benefits creates an incentive to stay home.

“We hear from every one of our suppliers. We can get you more parts. We can get you more capacity if we only had more people. It’s a resounding theme across our industry right now,” KI General Manager Tom Abrahamson said.

“What we’re seeing in manufacturing is a very big disruption in the supply chain,” Kurt Bauer, president and chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Manufactures and Commerce, said. “Part of the reason for that is that a lot of companies can’t run full shifts.”

Joshua Campbell works at JBS and he said less people are working at the meat plant.

“What they do is they try to make it as easy as possible and like the supervisor provides help. But, I would say sometimes it can be tough because once again we’re missing bodies and we truly need bodies,” Campbell of Green Bay said.

Some of the unemployed have taken issue with the recent push by Republicans to eliminate the extra $300 in unemployment benefits.

Elizabeth Klotz of Sherwood said she still hasn’t received benefits from the state since applying in January after she was laid off from her job. She’s been actively seeking employment.

“It’s very frustrating and I feel ashamed because I’m in this position,” Klotz said. “And then they’re talking on TV like people like me just sit in our butts and eat bonbons all day and that is not the case.”

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