War call-up brings no boost for temp agencies


War call-up brings no boost for temp agencies

By Heather Stur, of SBT

Although the war in Iraq has pulled many workers from their jobs, local staffing agencies have not been hit with a large demand for temporary help.
As of March 18, about 2,250 members of the Wisconsin Army and Air National Guard were listed on active duty, said Ann Peru Knabe of the 440th Airlift Wing Public Affairs office at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport. That’s about 23% of the Guard’s 9,800 soldiers and airmen in the state.
Soldiers and airmen from units in 24 Wisconsin communities currently are serving on active duty with the Army and Air Force.
But with the economy still in a slump, some companies are not replacing employees who have been called to military service, said Joel Schneider, president of SEEK Inc. in Grafton.
"A lot of companies are in a standstill or lay-off mode," Schneider said. "The economy is still tough, so employers aren’t filling positions left by those in the military. Also, many of the people being called up are in supervisory roles, and you don’t replace those with temps."
Not all companies tell staffing services the reason they need temporary employees, Schneider said. Still, SEEK has not had an unusually large number of requests specifically for military replacements.
"If we have 50 temps out there specifically filling the jobs of workers in the military, I’d be surprised," Schneider said.
Express Personnel Services, a Racine-based agency, also has not received many requests for the replacement of employees who have been called up to active duty, said owner Jeff McKeown.
The military issue has hit Express Personnel directly, however. One of its employees, Trever Brehm, was called to active duty with the Army just days after he received a promotion to a lead position in the company.
To help companies that do need workers to replace military personnel, Express Personnel has established its Express Freedom Worker Program.
As part of the program, Express Personnel provides existing clients with replacement workers at a reduced rate. Freedom Workers are provided at Express Personnel’s basic cost, with all temporary and contract staffing fees waived.
The Freedom Workers program will be in effect for at least the next 90 days.
"In today’s tumultuous economy, many employers do not have the time or money to stop and train employees to fill positions temporarily left by armed forces personnel," McKeown said. "With uncertainty about the length of time military personnel might be gone, employers are reluctant to fill vacated positions permanently. And they are obligated to maintain an opening when the military personnel return."

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April 18, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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