The State of Nebraska faces serious workers shortage ahead of the winter season, recent report shows

LINCOLN, Nebraska — This winter, it’s possible that the state of Nebraska won’t have enough staff to clear the snow off of its highways.

The union representing public employees in Nebraska is of the opinion that this is the case, and in the course of labor negotiations that are scheduled to start later this month, they will be seeking wage increases that are at least equal to the rate of inflation. This will be done to combat labor shortages in various fields, including highway maintenance workers.

As inflation remains almost constant at 9%, Justin Hubly, executive director of the Nebraska Association of Public Employees, expressed concern that the state was “falling behind.”

Rally to take place on Tuesday

NAPE/AFSCME Local 61, which represents around 8,000 state workers, is organizing a rally of union members on Tuesday from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Centennial Mall in Lincoln to bring attention to the issue. The State Office Building will serve as the backdrop for the event.

“The state remains critically short staffed at many agencies, and investments are needed to ensure that critical services continue uninterrupted,” said Melissa Haynes, who is both the president of the union and a social services worker. “Investments are needed to ensure that critical services continue uninterrupted.”

According to statements made by Haynes in a news release, “Our members fought tirelessly throughout the pandemic,” and “now is the time to invest in them.”

Hubly identified a number of examples in which state services have been lowered to a lesser extent or are at risk of being reduced as a result of staff shortages:

Due to a lack of available staff at various locations, the Department of Motor Vehicles has been forced to temporarily close certain locations.
This winter, the Nebraska Department of Transportation is struggling to find enough laborers to clear the state highways and diesel truck mechanics to fix the plows that are used for clearing the roads.
The Department of Health and Human Services is now experiencing a significant backlog of applications for economic assistance, which are waiting to be processed.
a deficiency in diesel mechanics

According to Hubly, pay for specific job classifications, such as diesel mechanic, have significantly lagged behind those offered in the private market. According to him, private enterprises are offering far more than the Department of Revenue’s hourly wage of slightly under $19 per hour.

There are multiple jobs listed on the state’s website for the position of highway maintenance worker, which has an hourly wage that begins at $16.62 per hour.

According to Hubly, it has been shown that big rises will fill vacancies, and he cited the 15% wage increases that were offered by the Ricketts administration for providers of health services.

In a related development, the Department of Roads is currently paying bonus payments of $4,000 to diesel mechanics who are hired.

The negotiations for the deal will be for a term that is valid for two years.

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