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Staff shortage sign at Union Dairy causes controversy in Freeport

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FREEPORT (WREX)— The Union Dairy ice cream shop posted a sign in its window, saying "sadly due to government handouts no one wants to work anymore. Therefore we are short-staffed. Please be patient with the staff that did choose to come to work today."

The sign led to several people talking about it on social media.

Former employees like Jade Klinger say it's not a fair sign because Union Dairy typically employs teens, who can't file for unemployment.

But even so, she says the pay isn't enough.

"Even on the busiest nights and even on the busiest nights of the year, when you are making tons and tons of money, you are still not getting anything," Klinger said.

She worked there 6 years ago and made $4.63 an hour in wages and split tips with her coworkers.

General manager Martiny McClellan says that the wage increased to $6.60 per hour before the pandemic and it increased again to $8.25 per hour along with tips during the pandemic.

She says the sign was not made to offend anyone, rather to express the struggle the ice cream store is dealing with.

"We were just trying to say it's hard to find work, whether you are a teenager or an adult, no one is applying," said McClellan. "Before the pandemic, we staffed just fine. So it just has to be some type of effect from the pandemic for so many staffing issues."

As for the sign, it's been replaced with a message it hopes will explain the shortage differently.

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Lauren Baker

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