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Unemployed Workers Blasts Gov. Hogan's Decision To End Additional Federal Benefits

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The Unemployed Workers Union is blasting Governor Larry Hogan's recent decision planning to stop the additional 300 dollars in federal benefits, leaving tens of thousands of Marylanders with less cash in their pockets.

"I'm fully vaccinated and all my life I've always worked. I want to work, I'm here to work and we should be able to find work," said Rasika Ruwanpanthirana, unemployed.

Jobless Marylanders are desperate to return to work but they say they haven't had any luck, applying to multiple jobs every month.

"I do have experience and then they list they're hiring everywhere but when are you going to look at my application," said Kaira George, unemployed.

Now, they're learning their enhanced pandemic unemployment benefits will be cut short. Making things worse, many say they haven't even seen a check in months.

"My vehicles have been repossessed twice. I have no money. no help at all," said George.

"I haven't gotten money for like 6 months and I'm behind my car payment and my insurance," said Ruwanpanthirana.

Wednesday, Governor Hogan announced the state has opted out of the additional $300 in federal unemployment benefits beginning early July, before its official expiration on Labor day.

Officials point to labor shortages, claiming enhanced unemployment benefits are keeping people from looking for jobs, leaving many businesses struggling to fill open positions.

"We're shorthanded so our guys are working twice the hours, they're working 5 days a week, not 4," said Kathy Shook, office manager of South Fourty Landscaping.

It's a decision local employers say they're relieved to hear, hoping this will help bring back a full staff.

"It should have been done a long time ago, they're killing the small business," said Shook.

But others are blasting the move, hoping to reverse it.

"We are outraged and we feel reprehensible because people didn't calculate that in one month they're going to be cut off of everything," said Sharon Black, Unemployed Workers Union. "It's a false narrative. If you look at the real statistics, the facts, there aren't enough jobs to go around for the numbers of people that are unemployed."

Data from the Department of Labor show in April, the state unemployment rate at 6.2 percent, slightly above the national rate.

Jobless Marylanders say they're concerned it will worsen their already dire situations. "Don't treat us like criminals, we are not trying to steal money.. we need the help now," said Ruwanpanthirana.

The Unemployed Workers Union says they plan to make as much noise as they can to make sure their voices are heard over the next month.

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