Sen. Rick Scott Meets with Florida Business Leaders on Need to Get Floridians Back to Work

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Rick Scott met with Florida business leaders who have opened their businesses but are struggling to find enough workers given the enhanced unemployment benefits that are paying Americans more to stay home than go back to their jobs.

This week, Senator Scott joined his colleagues to introduce the Get Americans Back to Work Act to revise the additional unemployment benefit to $150 per week on May 31, 2021, before full repeal on June 30, 2021. This legislation follows the release of the Department of Labor report showing that the U.S. economy created only 266,000 jobs in April, well below the anticipated million-jobs increase, and unemployment rose for the first time since April 2020.

Senator Scott also wrote letters to Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Department of Labor Acting Inspector General Larry Turner asking for information on the Department’s plans to combat fraud and abuse of enhanced federal unemployment benefits and get Americans back to work.

Senator Rick Scott said, “It’s heartbreaking to hear from Florida business owners that have done everything needed to survive shutdowns and the impacts of COVID-19 and now find themselves struggling to fully reopen. What I heard from them today is what I’ve heard from countless other businesses in Florida and across the nation in recent months – they can’t compete when the federal government is paying Americans more to stay home than go back to their jobs.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have supported the effort to get targeted aid to struggling families and businesses. I fought to include a provision in the CARES Act to ensure we weren’t creating a disincentive to return to work, but the Democrats blocked it. Now we are seeing the consequences. I applaud Governors across the nation who are taking action to get their citizens back to work. While President Biden and the Democrats remain in denial about what is happening, I will keep working to support our small businesses, get Americans back to work and get our economy fully reopened.”

Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, said, “We have been fighting for more than a year to save hospitality jobs and Florida businesses and get our state on the road to recovery. We are lucky to be open in Florida, but now we face a ‘new pandemic’ – a labor crisis that is crippling the hotels, restaurants, and suppliers who have survived this last year only to face the threat of closing now. Without adequate staff and supplies, we cannot provide the memorable and unparalleled experiences our guests are used to. It is past time for our state to get back to work, and we applaud all of those who are showing up every day in our industry. There is no better time to join or return to Florida’s hospitality industry and get a great Florida job!”

Sheldon Suga, Vice President & Managing Director of Hawks Cay Resort in the Florida Keys, said, “I commend Senator Scott for his ongoing support of Florida’s tourism industry. We still have a long road ahead of us, and we need all industry partners to come together to facilitate positive opportunities for travel and tourism.”

Lisa Lombardo, Chief People and Culture Officer, HDG Hotels, Central Florida, said, “We remain tremendously grateful for the team members who have stuck by us through the pandemic, and our focus is just as much on how to do right by them as it is finding people willing and able to step away from their unemployment benefits – a benefit that made good sense when businesses were closed, and work was unavailable. That is not our current situation; there are jobs available. To flip the switch to true recovery mode, we need to acknowledge and give credit to the many businesses who are ready to responsibly and safely bring on new talent. The message for Washington is, ‘we’re hiring, but we’re hurting.’ The labor shortage is not sustainable, and it is unconscionable that it doesn’t have to be as extreme as it is at this time.”

 John Horne, Owner/Operator of Anna Maria Oyster Bars, Bradenton and surrounding areas, said, “We can’t keep going the way we are now. I am still down 20 positions at each of my four locations, and the team members we have showing up are exhausted. Our salaried managers are even picking up shifts to help take care of our guests, but we need to get these positions filled. It’s going to take all of us, industry and government, working together to solve this hiring crisis. I really appreciate Senator Scott for sitting down with the hospitality industry to help us identify and implement solutions for the huge issue facing all industries in Florida – getting workers off unemployment and into the workforce.”

 Chef Jim Shirley, Owner of Great Southern Café, 45 Central Wine & Sushi Bar, The Meltdown on 30A, The Bay, Farm & Fire, and North Beach Social, Co-owner of Great Southern Restaurants and FRLA Board Executive Chairman, said, “Lack of staff has severely impacted every level of our business. We need front of house and back of house staff to be sure, but it is more than that. We have been unable to complete needed repairs at our buildings, and we have experienced unprecedented delivery disruptions for our food and supplies. Getting people in all industries back to work is necessary for our industry and our state to rebuild from the losses of this last year.”