Lehigh Valley

Nearly 100 state workers laid off in Allentown

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Nearly 100 employees from Allentown's unemployment compensation service center were laid off on Monday. The cuts came after a funding dispute between the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and the state Senate.

The Senate failed to pass House Bill 2375, which would have allowed more than $50 million in funding for the department.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor said it had to eliminate hundreds of positions across the state to accommodate the lack of funding.

State Senate Republicans blame the cuts on Gov. Tom Wolf, who, they said, hasn't come up with a more efficient way to fund the department. Wolf said Republicans are using state employees as pawns.

Employees at the Allentown office said they are frustrated with politicians, as the layoffs come just days before Christmas.

"The politicians are so busy pointing the finger... the good citizens of Pennsylvania are getting left to fall through the cracks," said John Wolfe, who had worked at the Allentown unemployment compensation service center for more than 10 years.

"A lot of use have worked there for a... long time. It's hard to say goodbye," he said.

Wolfe said many of his coworkers are looking for other state jobs, but they may have to relocate to other cities for them.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry said it will try to convince the Senate to restore funding when it reconvenes in the new year, but if it is unable to do so, it will need to make do with less money and a smaller staff.

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