Restaurants and retail on the hunt for employees as more places begin to open

NOW: Restaurants and retail on the hunt for employees as more places begin to open


MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) – As more and more places begin to open, restaurants and retail businesses are beginning to hire workers, but for some, going back to work is a tough choice.

As the ability to dine in begins to open up in some areas, some restaurants say they’re beginning hiring efforts now to stay ahead of the game. Milwaukee-based Cousins Subs is now hiring in nearly all of their locations.

“We don’t want to be behind the curve when it comes to -- once things start to re-open again,” said Courtney Hendricks, Human Resources Manager at Cousins Subs. “We want to make sure that our stores are staffed up, we want to make sure we’re ready to go.”

The Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers Organization (MASH) says for some employees, going back to work is a hard decision.

“Going back to work to put food on the table or protecting their own health or that of their family member? It’s really posed a false choice,” said Peter Rickman, President of MASH.

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce says employee and customer confidence is what will drive the area’s economic recovery, but adds unemployment benefits could keep some people at home.

“Unless something changes, the federally enhanced unemployment benefits run out at the end of July, that’s certainly going to keep some folks sidelined,” said Tim Sheehy, President of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

Meanwhile, Rickman says getting unemployment benefits has already proven to be challenging for some service workers.

“So if you have to rely on multiple employers or a variety of different streams of income, that could really complicate things in our unemployment system,” adds Rickman.

“Some states have been cracking down saying if your employer is opening up again and you decide that you don’t want to come back when you’re offered, your unemployment benefits will be terminated, so a lot of workers are in a dicey spot,” says Brad Hershbein, Senior Economist for the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

Cousins Subs, who have remained open the entire pandemic, says what their employees appreciate the most is support of their safety and well-being.

“We have had some say, ‘hey I don’t feel comfortable coming into work just during any of this time because I just don’t want to be catching anything or I’m at risk or I live with somebody that may be at risk,’ and we are very understanding of that,” said Hendricks.

“For too many people in the service industry, paid sick time and health care coverage are just fantasies. We need to put those issues front and center so that working people in the service industry can take care of their own health and safety,” says Rickman.

Even with the risks that come with working in a restaurant, Hendricks says through the Cousins Subs hiring process, she’s noticed there are still a good number of people looking for jobs in the restaurant industry.

Share this article: