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Workers at Pinellas manufacturer S.S. White get help with the school dilemma

Margie Manning

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Rahul Shukla, president and CEO, S.S. White

S.S. White, a Pinellas County manufacturer, is providing financial assistance to its workers who hire a tutor to help their children with virtual education.

The company is providing $100 a week in tutor assistance, said Rahul Shukla, CEO of S.S. White.

S.S. White and its subsidiary SHUKLA Medical, which relocated from New Jersey to Seminole in 2018, make aerospace parts and orthopedic instruments. Sales have fallen by 50 percent since April and the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Shukla said. But he decided to move forward with the new benefit, saying, “It’s just a matter of priorities. To us, our employees are our family. They are our priority one.”

The company earlier implemented safety measures for the Covid crisis, installing hands-free faucets and bathroom fixtures in early March. It paid workers a $4 hourly bonus for working during the lockdown period, and made and distributed free masks to employees and their families along with local medical organizations and other manufacturing companies.

It also has retained 120 employees, close to its full strength of 125 workers, Shukla said.

Two weeks ago, Sheryl Sheppard, the company’s human resources manager, told Shukla that she had made an agonizing decision to not send her son to school for a while. She hired a private tutor for her child. 


Related story: Many unanswered questions surround reopening schools in Pinellas County


“Many employee-parents must be going through a similar dilemma. To decide whether to send a  child to school or tutor at home would be a deeply personal and a heart wrenching decision. I would hate to make such a decision strictly on financial considerations,” Shukla said.

Initially he decided to offer a $50 a week. Then he said he thought of his own struggling days 45 years ago when he was a low-level factory worker in the same company and he raised the amount of tutor assistance to $100 a week.

Shukla announced the tutor assistance policy last week and said it was greeted enthusiastically by workers, both those with children and those without children.

The company separately announced an improvement in its family leave benefit, and now provides a four-week paid leave not just to female employees after the birth of a child but also to male employees when they become fathers.

 

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