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An incentive not to work? Some workers refuse to go back to their jobs, remain on unemployment

Leaders from the beer brewing industry and manufacturing sector say they've had problems getting people back to work.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — As more businesses continue to reopen, some industries are having issues in getting people back to work. Leaders from the beer brewing industry and manufacturing sector say workers would rather collect unemployment benefits.

Refusing to go back to work is an issue the Buffalo Niagara Manufacturing Alliance (BNMA) says it is seeing. The organization represents businesses from the automotive, aerospace and the oil and gas industry.

The BNMA says throughout the pandemic, the vast majority of local manufacturers have stayed open as essential industries. But, the organization estimates about 10 percent of workers in local manufacturing were laid off.

Peter Coleman, the president and CEO of BNMA says a real issue in getting people back to work is the weekly $600 unemployment payment people get from the federal government.

"If they have an issue with regards to child care or other issues or concerns they can take advantage of the federal Family Medical Leave Act, but they should not be getting their federal unemployment insurance if they have been called back," he said. 

Coleman believes laid off workers could be making more in unemployment than they would if they returned to work.

"It's a great benefit, but it can't be an issue where someone would make more money staying at home and not going to work and incentive people not working," Coleman said.

He says businesses have had to report to the state, workers who have refused to come back and for their unemployment to be cut off. 

The federal unemployment payments of $600 is scheduled to end in late July. 

The BNMA says it would like to see a shared worker program in which workers do partial work and are made whole through unemployment benefits. 

"People have felt unsafe I legitimize that," Coleman says. But he also notes there have been no serious breakouts related to the virus in the manufacturing sector, likely because of extensive health and safety protocols that are already in place. 

Getting laid off workers back on the job, is something that the New York State Brewers Association is also seeing as an issue. Of course, a lot of restaurants and breweries have been hit hard by the pandemic. Many restaurants had to close their doors and resort to curbside pickup and delivery.

But restaurants and breweries are trying to make a comeback -- with outdoor dining allowed and indoor dining in WNY being allowed to resume Tuesday. 

The association says a real deterrent statewide has been the weekly federal unemployment payment laid off workers get on top of state unemployment. 

"Especially the people who are tipped employees their, weekly paid check is fairly low and even adding in the cash tip portion of it which was part of the PPP program it still comes nowhere close to the $600 extra they're getting right now," said Chris Ericson, the president of the New York State Brewers Association. 

The state brewers association says it is reluctant to report people to the department of labor because it doesn't want to force people to go back to work. 

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