Written by Brandon Menard for WPTZ 5 on August 13, 2020
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. —
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik took time to check in on local businesses Thursday as they continue to weather the pandemic. Stefanik stopped at Lake Champlain Roofing where they are having trouble hiring people even though they have a surplus of positions waiting to be filled.
Last year, Lake Champlain Roofing had around 20 employees, but now that number is down to only 11 and is partly caused by the pandemic. The other part of the issue, according to the owner, Donald Phaneuf, they are blaming unemployment benefits and claim that people just don’t want to get back to work.
“We do have a lot of work, it’s just a matter of getting it done in a short season before the snow falls and having the labor to make this happen. We got a late start because of this pandemic. So, we’re really trying to push to get what we can get done prior to the snow.”
Republican Elise Stefanik chatted with the Lake Champlain Roofing about topics like the pause on construction and how the Paycheck Protection Program has helped them.
As for their lack of employees, Stefanik says it’s important for people to make the transition from unemployment back to the workforce.
“The incentive should be getting people safely back to work. Which is why I support ramping down, or also tying the additional unemployment assistance to previous wages at 70%. I support the President’s executive action.”
Lake Champlain Roofing is optimistic their concerns are being heard, and hope action will lead to applicants.
Kim Phaneuf, who operates DMP Rentals, voiced her gratitude for a listening ear. “I think this pandemic has tested everybody around here. It’s made things more difficult. But to have her come up here and listen, you know somebody’s finally listening and fighting for us. That’s just huge. That’s huge.”
Stefanik says businesses like Lake Champlain Roofing are important to hear out, and that the needs of the North Country will be heard in Washington as the fight to recover from COVID-19 continues.
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