State Program Helping Employees Keep Jobs

SPOKANE — With more companies being forced to pass out the pink slips, there’s a Washington program growing in popularity that’s helping local businesses keep their doors open and their employees on the job.

When business is good the parking lot at EZ Loader Boat Trailers is filled with trailers ready to be shipped out and sold. These days however business is slow which led the company to nearly lay off 50-percent of its workforce.

Now the company credits a state program for saving local jobs.  

“We’ve had difficult times in the marine industry before not quite like they are right now,” Bill Baker of Ez Loader said.

If it wasn’t for Washington’s shared work program, the company would have been facing tough choices, most likely laying off up to 50 people out of the 135 that work at the Spokane-based boat trailer manufacturer.

The shared work program allows an employer to temporarily reduce employees hours and then workers can make up those hours by filing for partial unemployment benefits with the state.

“Here everybody takes one day a week off and then of course everybody gets to stay. They also get to keep all of their benefits,” Baker said.

Levi Kettleson has worked there for 28 years and under the program he works a four-day work week and on his day off 20-percent of his daily pay is subsidized by unemployment. Kettleson says he loses about $50 on his day off under the program but it beats the alternative.

“A lot of people are working that wouldn’t be working,” Kettleson said.

Right now the employment security department says 1,200 employers across the state are signed up for the program compared to just 145 employers last year. In Spokane County Ez Loader is one of 78 employers currently enrolled in the program.

Currently over 33,000 people across the state have their jobs still thanks to the program.