Group asks Brown to end federal unemployment supplements

By on Wednesday, June 9th, 2021 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

SALEM – A total of 33 leaders from Eastern Oregon have penned a letter to Gov. Kate Brown, asking for her help in ending a workforce shortage crisis facing the entire region. Umatilla County Board of Commissioners Chairman George Murdock said he can’t recall ever seeing so many “Help Wanted” signs going unanswered.

“Our concern is that as long as they continue to make it more attractive to stay home for a lot of people than to go to work, we may continue to have a problem,” he said.

Murdock added that times are different now than during that volatile period when workers felt like bouncing balls being called back to work and then sent home again.

“We certainly appreciated the extra support that came during COVID, but that’s passed, and there’s really no reason to expend all those funds to pay people when there are so many jobs available,” he said.

Among the signers of the letter are Sen. Bill Hansell (R-Athena), Rep. Greg Smith (R-Heppner), Rep. Bobby Levy (R-Echo), and Rep. Mark Owens (R-Crane) also signed. County officials adding their signatures are from Umatilla, Morrow, Union, Wallowa, Baker, Deschutes, Harney, Jefferson, Lake, Malheur, Gilliam, Crook, Wheeler, and Grant counties.