Last week, the House Majority Policy Committee held a hearing to discuss regulations temporarily suspended during the pandemic. Among those testifying were representatives from PA Chamber member company Webco.
The Oil City-based company, a leading manufacturer of steel tubing, is among the many employers experiencing workforce shortages. At the hearing, Webco Director of Operations Ryan Bell and Human Resource Manager Bobbie Jones described their company’s challenges and the impact of suspending the requirement for those collecting unemployment compensation benefits to search for work.
According to their testimony, “The number of applicants has drastically and continually declined throughout the pandemic and has yet to show any signs of improvement.” Discussing the work search requirement, they explained that the “suspension of these requirements during the pandemic has removed the need for individuals to actively seek for employment and show proof of application.” They also described difficulty bringing employees back to work with benefits, plus federally-funded enhancements, often exceeding wages.
Also testifying on the topic was Mireille Cottle, vice president of Human Resources for StoneRidge Retirement Living Communities in Myerstown. Cottle described similar experiences, and urged system upgrades to discourage those who might attempt to game the work search system.
These employers’ testimonies gave the committee members real world examples of how state policies are impacting the Commonwealth’s business community – an issue that is at the forefront of the PA Chamber’s legislative priority list. Later in the week, the House Labor and Industry Committee announced it had scheduled a voting meeting to consider H.B. 406, which would reinstitute the UC work search requirement.