Time to do the right thing for unemployed workers

House Democrats remain vocal about getting this funding in place as soon as possible and getting the system working for unemployed Pennsylvanians again.

It's time to end the six-months' worth of suffering tens of thousands of Pennsylvania individuals and families have endured because Republican leaders in the state Senate refused to do their jobs back in October.

 

The state was forced to close three unemployment call centers and furlough 500 workers in December after Senate Republicans refused to vote on a bill to keep the centers open and upgrade technology and services.

 

Since then, unemployed workers in Pennsylvania have had to deal with endless busy signals, dropped calls, hours spent on hold, and sometimes weeks and even months waiting for benefits.

 

Workers like Anita Salvato, whose experience was detailed in the Philadelphia Inquirer. She lost her job at a Philadelphia hospital in February and waited eight weeks to get her first unemployment check, even though there was no opposition from her former employer.

 

"I’m usually self-sufficient. It is scaring the hell out of me. I’m so afraid. I’m so frightened," she says.

 

No Pennsylvania worker, or business for that matter, that pays taxes into the unemployment system should have to deal with that level of frustration when it comes time to use the system.

 

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote today on legislation that would provide temporary funding to rehire some of the furloughed workers and restore some of the services lost last year. The Senate passed a version of the bill in March.

 

The push to stall the bill in the Senate last October was led by a senator who's announced he's running for governor against Gov. Wolf next year. He voted against the bill again last month.

 

A political dispute shouldn't put the lives of thousands of Pennsylvanians on hold, jeopardizing their families’ financial security and, in some cases, even their mortgages.

 

Legislators who believe in state government that works and works for you -- instead of partisan politics that works for them -- wouldn't have let this happen.

 

That's why House Democrats have been so vocal about getting this funding in place as soon as possible and getting the system working for unemployed Pennsylvanians again.

 

It's just too bad that it's taken six months to finally convince some legislators to  take the steps necessary to do the right thing.