What They’re Saying: Wisconsin Businesses Beg for Help as Assembly Considers Veto Override

[Madison, WI] – Today, the State Assembly will vote on whether to override Tony Evers’ veto of Assembly Bill 336, which would help get Wisconsinites back to work as the state labor shortage has reached crisis level. Despite providing higher wages and additional benefits, Wisconsin small business owners are struggling to find workers. Evers’ claims that he lacks the “data” or “proof” to help are misleading at best as the data shows that Americans are returning to the workforce more quickly in states that have gotten government out of the way.

Check out what Main Street business owners are saying about their struggles with the workforce shortage:

Appleton Post-Crescent: Northeast Wisconsin Businesses Hard-Pressed for Workers in the Pandemic

To entice job hunters to come work for their company, employers have started to raise wages, offer sign-on and retention bonuses, and expand benefits. Ahlstrom-Munksjö has raised its entry-level wages to between $20 and $22 an hour, and ended a requirement that prospects need a high school diploma or GED to be hired. The Bridgewood Resort has raised starting wages for employees, and the hotel offers full benefits, complementary use of certain hotel facilities, and room and food discounts.

Neph’s restaurants offer health insurance and other benefits for full-time employees, and staff will have the option to work at both Republic Chophouse and Mangiare to get enough hours to qualify for those benefits. Neph has also raised wages. Pay for non-tipped workers has been increased between 20% and 25%, he said. Despite the boost, all three businesses are struggling to fill positions. Many employers and political leaders point to more generous jobless aid given during the pandemic for holding back hiring.

Waukesha Freeman: Wisconsin Coach Lines grappling with worker shortage

Dieckelman said Wisconsin Coach Lines has been working with third-party companies to help spread the word about the company’s urgent need for workers. Job posts are routinely placed on Indeed and similar platforms. But the fickle employment market has resulted in hiccups, with jobs offered and workers simply not showing up.

“We get a lot of resumes in. We call them, we text them, we email them,” Dieckelman said. “Many times, they don’t respond. Sometimes we do get responses and we schedule interviews. Sometimes they show up, and sometimes they don’t.”

Dieckelman said there are a number of reasons behind the worker shortage, including the oft-cited continued availability of $300 weekly federal unemployment funds. “You hate to be competing for jobs against, basically, the government,” he said. “But to me, it’s not just any one thing. It’s a combination of things.”

WISN: Company gets creative with recruiting, retaining employees

“(There’s) poaching going on throughout the industry, wage inflation taking place and rising costs, and we have to respond to that,” President and CEO Alan Petelinsek said. “All of our individuals are aware there’s people on the sidelines that are able to live with some of the government subsidy.”

Wisconsin manufactures face and compete amidst the latest chapter of a statewide workforce shortage. The additional $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits because of the pandemic has been a much-debated factor.

“I think it’s clear it’s a contributing factor. What we don’t know is how large,” said Noah Williams, director at the Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy at UW-Madison. “It is the one piece which is most amenable to policy change.”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: From July 3 fireworks to Summerfest bus service, a worker shortage has Milwaukee County struggling to pull off beloved events

The Milwaukee County Parks Department is still a couple of hundred seasonal workers short of the approximately 900 usually hired in a year, Parks Director Guy Smith said in late June. It was that shortage of workers, not the health emergency, that forced the cancellation of the famous lakefront fireworks this year. 

The department did not have the staff and resources necessary to prepare for and clean up after the event that draws more than 100,000 people to Milwaukee’s lakefront, many of whom camp overnight to stake out the best viewing spots. The department has openings in food and beverage areas, golf course maintenance, grounds maintenance and, for 2022, lifeguards. With about 75 lifeguards, the department could only open four pools and aquatic centers this year, he said.  

WFRV: Labor shortages cause headaches in the restaurant industry

The restaurant industry was already severely damaged by the pandemic but now with the new labor shortage owners and staff are feeling a new type of pressure.

“It’s pretty difficult,” said Johnathan Schinke, the Kitchen Manager at Kamps Bar and Grill. Amanda Fenn, a bartender there said, “It’s been horrible.” The labor shortage in the service industry isn’t contained to the front-of-house positions that we can all see…

Across the board, service workers said they are exhausted. “It’s depressing,” said Fenn. “You have to do it all over again and you have to keep smiling and keep being nice to people and people are just not understanding.” Schinke said, “It’s incredibly difficult and it’s draining.”