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Furloughed State Employees Start Getting Back To Work

Katie Meyer
SEUI Local 668 workers rally after hearing about their impending layoffs in December. The first wave of employees went back to work this week.

The first wave of employees has been called back to work in the state’s unemployment compensation call centers, with more follow next week.

The move comes a week after the legislature passed a measure to temporarily restore the UC system’s funding. But many of the roughly 500 employees laid off last year over funding disputes are still out of a job.

The stopgap solution gives the embattled UC system $15 million, which will go toward bringing 211 employees back and running the department for the rest of the year.

But come January, the money will dry up again.

If a funding solution isn’t found by then, the confusion and poor service that plagued UC centers after last year’s layoffs could return.

The unions that represent the employees are currently working to keep pressure on the legislature.

SEIU Local 668 President Tom Herman said they’ve been holding rallies outside lawmakers’ offices.

“What we’re demanding is that they fully fund this operation so the citizens of Pennsylvania can get the services they deserve,” he said. “If the legislature can’t find a way to provide the money needed, unemployment will crash again.”

Lawmakers have said they’re committed to figuring out a solution soon, but there’s no indication what it will look like.