Hoosier worker: “I know I’m not the only one waiting. There’s a lot of us. I’m not the only one struggling”
IndyStar Columnist James Briggs: “Indiana’s mantra of being a ‘State that Works’ is more than a clever slogan. It is an identity. It is Hoosier Uncle Sam pointing his bony finger at each citizen to say, ‘I Want You … for low-wage jobs.’”
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Democratic Party, the organization that advocates for the future of Indiana and its families, today criticized Governor Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Republican Party for creating a state economy that’s made Hoosiers work more for less and limited many Hoosier workers’ future. This decades-long job record – which studies show Republicans funneling out more “good jobs” than taking in – has caused a situation where current wages do not exceed COVID-19 relief benefits provided by the federal government. This economic reality is producing a worker shortage throughout the state.
“In continuing to work on their exhausting partisan agenda, the Indiana Republican Party is making Hoosiers work more for less as families struggle to pay rent, buy groceries, and make ends meet,” said Lauren Ganapini, executive director of the Indiana Democratic Party. “The COVID-19 pandemic exposed a state economy that is not building a better future for Hoosier families, but instead, holding them back. It’s past time for Indiana to raise wages for workers, and Democrats look forward to passing the American Jobs Plan so that our unions are strengthened and Hoosiers finally receive the salaries they’ve long deserved.”
Hoosier workers have opened up about struggling without unemployment benefits during the pandemic. The media have called out Governor Holcomb and the Republicans for creating this unsustainable environment for Hoosier families. And economists have repeatedly said the way out of Indiana’s worker shortage is to raise wages. Governor Holcomb’s answer: cut unemployment benefits from workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Indiana Republicans are abiding by a cold-hearted solution that’s rooted in extreme partisanship and misinformation, and it’s so obvious that even a judge has put a stop to Governor Holcomb’s political games.
Indiana Democrats have two common sense solutions that will build a better tomorrow for Hoosier workers. First, Democrats have repeatedly called on the state to raise its minimum wage. By doing so, more than 892,000 Hoosiers who currently earn less than $15.00 an hour would unlock better opportunities for themselves and their families. Second, Democrats look forward to supporting and passing the American Jobs Plan, because it’ll create good-paying jobs, strengthen unions, and revitalize Indiana’s infrastructure system – including expanding broadband access, eliminating childcare deserts, and updating healthcare systems for Indiana’s veterans.
Here’s how Hoosiers learned about the Indiana Republican Party’s “work more for less” economy:
WISH: Hoosiers in limbo amid court battle over federal unemployment benefits
“Giovanni Chavez-Berrios applies for work daily while receiving unemployment benefits right now. He says his savings is drying up.
‘Today is the first of the month. Rent, they’re calling. Cellphone bill is due in like a day or two. Insurance, everything else that I have, is all lately coming due. On my savings, I’ve got to try to manage and let them know, ‘Well, this is how much I can pay,’ Chavez-Berrios said.
He depended on the extra $300 a week in federal pandemic payments. But those payments stopped in June, and now he and hundreds of thousands of other Hoosiers are in limbo.”
WISH: Hoosiers wait for judge’s decision on federal unemployment benefits
“Preston Peterson, 55, lost job as an equipment operator job in June 2020. He has relied on unemployment benefits and the federal pandemic unemployment payments. But that extra $300 a week stopped on June 19.
‘That extra $300, that paid my rent. Now, my rent was due yesterday. It’s not paid yet. Everything, I don’t know. I’m trying to take it one day at a time,’ Peterson said.
Things have not gone well for him in Crawfordsville since then. He’s considering selling his car to be able to pay bills.
‘That kind of put us into a real bind right now. I lost my vehicle insurance just recently,” Peterson told News 8. ‘The house insurance is canceled.’
Peterson told News 8 he has applied for 50 jobs in the last two months, and three to four jobs on Thursday alone.”
IndyStar: Briggs: Indiana’s work fetish won’t help in this post-pandemic economy
“Indiana’s mantra of being a “State that Works” is more than a clever slogan. It is an identity. It is Hoosier Uncle Sam pointing his bony finger at each citizen to say, “I Want You … for low-wage jobs.”
It has been a compelling call to action boosted by coercion. Indiana, like other red states, has fetishized the culture of sacrificial work. The state has bolstered its business-friendly credibility not only through a devotion to low taxes, but also by establishing policies that make it painful for people to live without a job.”
“…America’s volunteer army of service workers has mutinied and Indiana, as well as the state’s employers, might soon find that the balance of power has shifted toward laborers who are willing to sit out until they’re good and ready to accept jobs on their terms.
Indiana is making no secret of which side it supports.” […]
“Indiana’s defense of Holcomb’s decision goes beyond that, though, and offers insight into the psyche of a state that views businesses as a lifeblood and workers as a commodity to be traded on an open market.” […]
“The court document cites a press release from the National Federation of Independent Business, which notes that a survey of its members found 40% of business owners (not even a majority!) say “enhanced unemployment benefits are discouraging people in Indiana from returning to work.”
If that’s any indication of Holcomb’s thinking, then it sounds like Holcomb decided to strip federal unemployment dollars — which do not cost Indiana anything, yet can be spent within the state — because a minority of business owners think (but are not sure) it might help them hire more people.“
“That is an unseemly level of deference to business owners. It is also a running theme in Indiana.”
“A lack of supporting evidence has not been much of a problem in recent years, as Indiana’s persistently low unemployment rate has enabled the state to credibly tell any story it wants to. Now, though, as Indiana fights to preserve work-first policies, the myth of the State that Works is being exposed. The struggle between labor and management is not about Indiana and its politics. The struggle comes down to money.“
“In the meantime, economic data is pointing more firmly in another direction: People are waiting out the job market and even quitting jobs they already have in record numbers — this has been dubbed the “take this job and shove it” economy — because many employers are not yet offering wages and benefits necessary to hire or keep them.“