Wagner should resolve to restore funding, jobs

I, along with my fiancee, Melissa Fisher, worked for the Altoona Unemployment Compensation office for nearly nine years each.

On that last day of our employment, Dec. 19, Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr. was stopping each car as they tried to exit the parking lot at the end of their shift, handing out an envelope containing $150 in cash with a note from Sen. Scott Wagner.

It seemed odd that the man who bragged that he “dug my foot in” and barked to “let them close down” the UC centers, was giving away money.

Was he trying to buy my vote for his run for governor in 2018, or trying to appease his conscience and his guilt for his ineptness in not taking seriously the administration’s announcement that call centers would have to be closed if the funding was not approved, or all of the above? He missed two very important committee meetings where the funding bill was voted on and additional language added, which included an audit of the last four years of SIIF funding use. He obviously didn’t read the bill and definitely didn’t do his job. Why should I think that Wagner would be any better as governor?

I’ve been registered to vote for 30 years and never once have I encountered a candidate who tried to “buy” my vote. My vote is “priceless,” and there is no amount of money that is of equal value to it.

Not only did the commonwealth lose competent and experienced unemployment compensation employees, but the unemployed workers and their employers have lost with benefit claims taking much longer to process and appeals by the employers being delayed.

Nobody wins with this 35 percent reduction of UC staff. The funds are already available, but the Legislature must approve their transfer to keep the UC system moving in the right direction.

I’m sure I’m not unlike many of the other furloughed workers who lost their jobs on Dec. 18 except our household lost both incomes and we now have no health insurance.

Our 12-year-old daughter needs weekly shots, and I don’t know how I will afford my daily medications as well. Even though we lived paycheck to paycheck like almost everyone else in Pennsylvanian, I was turned down for welfare assistance.

So Happy New Year, Sen. Wagner. I hope you make a new year’s resolution for 2017 to do the right thing for all of Pennsylvania’s unemployed and pass a Labor & Industry funding bill to bring back my job and livelihood.

My resolution is to keep calling you out if you don’t.

Daniel McDermott



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