Plavecsky's Ponderings By Jim Plavecsky
by Jim Plavecsky
September 2nd, 2021

Workers Are Returning – Snag Your Share

Well, the extra unemployment benefits provided by the CARES Act are due to expire on September 6 and Congress has no plans for renewing them. According to an article on CNBC’s Make It, once these benefits expire next week, most states have no intention of extending any additional benefits. So over 7.5 million workers will go to $0 in unemployment aid and nothing more is planned.

Well, if you ask just about any plant manager in the window industry if they are concerned about this sudden stoppage of extended unemployment benefits and the potential impact on these people, they will stop dead in their tracks, stare at you intently and say, “Well … we have plenty of jobs for people who want to work!”

Indeed, many a plant manager in our industry will tell you that these extended unemployment benefits that are due to expire were largely responsible for the severe labor shortages that our industry has been experiencing. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this expression since the pandemic hit: “Why would people want to work when the government is paying them to stay home?”

Most window companies have raised their wages considerably since the pandemic struck. In some instances, higher wages have helped man the saws and welders, but in many cases it still didn’t help keep a full staff.

So, does this mean that after Labor Day, a flood of workers will be lining up at window manufacturing plants, filling out applications, and manning the saws and welders by the end of the month? Will our worries be over?

Not quite. There will be the fear factor. Many workers wishing to return to the workforce will fear COVID-19. For the past year and a half, they were getting paid to stay home in the comfort and safety of their own homes. And now, the virus is surging again. When COVID-19 first hit early in 2020, everyone I knew was questioning the validity of an actual pandemic. People were regularly asking, “Does anyone really know anyone who actually has this disease?” Right now, it is completely different. Everybody I know has either had it themselves, has it now, or has family members or friends who have it. Most people can tell you that they know at least a few people that have died from COVID-19 either directly or as a contributing factor. I even know people who were fully vaccinated and still have a wicked case of it. This new “Delta” variant seems to be even more potent, and it is even more contagious!

So, what’s next? How do we help ensure the safety of workers wishing to return to our factory floors? Reuters reports that, based on a recent survey, over 52% of employers may mandate vaccination for some or even all employees.

So, with 7.5 million workers poised to return to work, what is your strategy to attract workers back to your factory floor to help alleviate the labor shortage that has been stretching your existing workforce to their very limits?

It’s time to get a plan together and snag your share!

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