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Federal Funds For Shared Work Program Could Save Ohio Jobs

Two Republican State Senators want the state to take advantage of a federal program that they say would help employ more Ohioans.

Senator Bob Peterson says there’s a truck company in his district that finds its business ebbs and flows in this economy. And in an interview with Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles, Peterson explains how using this federal shared work program could help that company and others create jobs.

Peterson – So rather than lay people off, what this program would allow is the company and its employees would agree to a shared work program. In that case, they’d agree to reduce the hours from a 40 hour week to a 30 hour week. The company would pay the employee for the hours they worked and the difference would be made up by the Department of Job and Family Services through a federal program that funds it.

Ingles – So this is being done in other places successfully?

Peterson – Twenty five other states have this program in place. The federal legislation was passed last summer, allowing this program to go forward.

Ingles – But if people are getting jobs that are not sustainable, this sounds like a band aid fix. Is it?

Peterson – The company’s view point is this helps retain workers, especially in this down economy. This helps retain workers who have skills. You know when you are talking about putting together a couple of hundred thousand dollar truck, you know you want someone with skills to put this together. It helps retain those skilled workers in this down period. Hopefully the economy is in a down period and we can move forward. But it allows some flexibility. The thing I like the best is its for everybody. The employer has to choose to do it, the employee has to choose to do it and the Department of Jobs and Family Services has to approve the plan. Everybody has to agree to move this forward.

Ingles – So why hasn’t Ohio been doing this before if it’s something that could help?

Peterson – What is unique is the federal legislation that funds the program right now. And we could have a good debate, and we should, as to whether the federal government should be doing this or not. I view this 3 year window as the opportunity for Ohio to get a good pilot project, get some good data, get some good background on whether the program works, how effective it is, you know whether it helps retain the good workers in Ohio and then we can use that as we go forward to see whether we want to do this on a longer term basis.

Ingles – Now the real solution though is to get long term jobs for these people that they can stay in for a long time, correct?

Peterson – Oh, absolutely , I mean this is a temporary program that just helps through the down time. What we need to do is to grow the Ohio economy, bring more jobs here, bring better paying jobs, and create the competition in the job market that we had ten years ago

Peterson hopes his bill will be passed in the Ohio Senate in the next few months.