Wisconsin Republican Legislators Introduce ‘Stronger Workforce’ Initiative to Fight Growing Labor Shortage


Wisconsin Republican legislators introduced the Stronger Workforce Initiative to fight the growing labor shortage occurring in the state. According to a joint press release from the Wisconsin Senate Republicans and Wisconsin Assembly Republicans, the initiative would be a “multipronged approach to address the employment crisis facing small businesses throughout Wisconsin.”

The Wednesday joint release said, “Everyone has seen the enormous amount of ‘help wanted’ signs throughout Wisconsin. Employers are desperate to fill vacant jobs, and the lack of willing workers has reached crisis levels. There’s an abundance of high-wage jobs and a large number of workers available. The Stronger Workforce Initiative will help remove the government-created barriers between the two.”

It continued, “Republicans feel an obligation to deliver smarter government programs that provide a safety net to the truly needy but don’t compete with businesses needing to hire those who are able to work. It is clear that the opportunities for Wisconsin’s workforce have changed, and our government systems need to change along with them.”

The initiative includes seven separate bills regarding employment and unemployment benefits, which “promote re-employment, protect the safety net programs, conduct more frequent eligibility checks, eliminate fraud, and tune up important programs to deliver a system that works for all Wisconsin.”

The bills from Republican legislators would create stricter regulations for those utilizing unemployment benefits, including a bill that would require regular eligibility checks to ensure that those taking advantage of the state’s benefits were actually eligible to do so.

Another bill could potentially penalize unemployed persons for “ghosting” job interviews, if an investigation of the situation verified that the individual failed to show up for their interview.

A bill titled “Indexing UI Benefits to Unemployment Rate” would adjust unemployment benefits according to the number of available jobs. “When jobs are plentiful, claimants should spend less time on [unemployment insurance]. When the unemployment rate is higher, there will be a longer duration an individual could look for work and remain on the program,” the joint release reads.

Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) appeared to show his disagreement with the steps Republicans are taking, tweeting out, “I don’t know who needs to hear this…okay I know EXACTLY who needs to hear this, but cutting benefits and increasing bureaucracy isn’t going to solve any worker shortages.”

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Hayley Feland is a reporter with The Minnesota Sun and The Wisconsin Daily Star | Star News Network. Follow Hayley on Twitter or like her Facebook page. Send news tips to [email protected].




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