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Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO to Governor: Ending pandemic unemployment benefits does not address long or short term workforce shortages

Charlie Wishman at a labor picnic in Mason City.

DES MOINES Charlie Wishman, President of the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, condemned Republican Governor of Iowa Kim Reynolds for turing away millions of dollars in federal unemployment money for Iowans out of work:

It is shameful that our Governor can hurt people with such ease. Ending Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is a terrible decision by this Governor and shows a misunderstanding of what’s actually going on in Iowa’s economy in the short and long term. The unemployment program has been in place nationwide since March of 2020. Congress, in a bi-partisan vote, wisely expanded our social safety net to cover the self-employed, gig workers, freelancers and others who didn’t previously qualify for jobless benefits in addition to the thousands of Iowans who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds

What we’re really dealing with is a long-term problem in Iowa. Our workforce shortage problems need to be addressed, but cutting unemployment isn’t the answer. While our state government in Iowa has done everything possible to ensure Iowa is a low-wage state, that hasn’t attracted workers to want to come here. In fact, this isn’t a problem that’s going away any time soon. As our baby-boom generation ages and is retiring, replacing them in the workforce means that Iowa will have to attract workers from other places to fill those gaps. Demographically, there just aren’t enough people to take care of this aging generation in their senior years, let alone fill the gaps in the workforce they leave behind.

Cutting unemployment is punitive and doesn’t solve our problems in the long term. Iowa needs to change its course economically, take steps to raise wages and benefits, make Iowa a good place to raise a family, and actually invest in our education instead of defunding it. Steps like these seem obvious, but they haven’t occurred to our Governor yet. Finding quick solutions that play well to a Fox News crowd is one thing, actually addressing our economic concerns in a reality based way is another, and we urge the Governor to do the latter.

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Charlie Wishman
President, Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO

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