The unemployed are push for reforms and changes to the US unemployment insurance system after millions of workers encountered serious problems collecting benefits throughout the pandemic.
Workers across America have faced long delays in receiving unemployment benefits as public systems were quickly overwhelmed by the massive influx of claims that caused arrears of several During this time, workers who made errors in their claims, had missing records, or had their claims flagged saw their benefits halt - and often had difficulty restarting them after issues were resolved.
An estimated 9 million Americans lost their work due to the pandemic, but received no unemployment benefits.
Sharon Corpening, 60, a freelance writer in Roswell, Georgia, lost all of his employment contracts when the pandemic shutdowns occurred in the United States last March.
As a concert worker, Corpening's initial jobless claim was turned down by the Georgia Department of Labor, until the Cares Act provided pandemic unemployment assistance for gig workers for a few weeks. later. She spent weeks trying to deal with it. his request and encountered problems with the Unemployment website, and was on the phone for hours a day without being able to reach a service representative.
Like thousands of Americans struggling with their jobless claims, Corpening joined a Facebook group and got involved in helping others through the unemployment process, advocating for systemic reforms and thwarting narratives that attempt to present the unemployed as "lazy" and "unwilling to work".
Corpening took offense to these characterizations and a urge Republican governors to cancel federal unemployment benefits prematurely while unemployment systems fail.
"We still have people who applied eight months ago who didn 't get a dime," Corpening said. "Georgia is one of the 26 states that have cut federal benefits, and in a week I will tell you that all of my bank accountss are in the open. "
The impacts have been damaging to workers across the United States, who have fallen behind on rent or rent payments. mortgage or car, suffered utility cuts and relied on food banks and assistance programs to feed themselves and their families.
Following mass unemployment caused by the pandemic, several organizations, including the Economic Policy Institute and the National Employment Law Project, have created a report with the unemployed outlining the reforms needed to address the widespread insurance problems unemployment that have been exposed by Covid-19.
"Fifty-one different unemployment programs are not working and I think the last 16 months have proven that these different s ystems are51 different apologies, ”said Chevon Hussey, who waited several months to receive unemployment benefits when his mental health and public speaking business closed due to Covid-19.
While waiting for unemployment, Hussey and her husband, whose working hours were reduced due to the pandemic, were forced to place their daughter with special needs in a group home until 'so that they could regain sufficient financial stability to take care of her again at home.
"We couldn't anymore rely on the state to bring it together, ”Hussey said. “The federal government moved so quickly to make these dollars available. The jobless claims were there, but nothing was happening, and our state said everything was working. "
Kelly Johnson, a single mother in Dunedin, Florida , lost her two managerial jobsrestaurant and personal trainer when the pandemic hit.
She began organizing social media protests around Florida over the issues she was facing. and other unemployed people faced not being able to receive benefits through Florida's unemployment system, which Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, admitted in August 2020, was designed to create unnecessary roadblocks for the unemployed to limit the number of paid claims.
His experience with the Florida unemployment system, one of the worst in the United States, including long delays in benefit payments, low payments due to only one ofhis employment income is factored into the determination of his allowances, technical issues difficulties with the website and inability to reach representatives to assist him.
"Six more weeks went by in this phase and all of a sudden my savings were gone and I spent my stimulus on my mortgage and running my house. I was really scared, because I wasn't getting the money, ”Johnson said.
She returned to work in the restaurant business a few months ago, but still works very reduced hours while looking after her children who are out of school for the summer. Because Florida canceled extended federal unemployment benefits early on, its unemployment benefits have dropped dramatically, while re-employment and child care services are inadequate or non-existent.
"My state allowance is $ 71 per week and I was working 60 hours per week before the pandemic," Johnson added. “What we have learned going through all of this is that we cannot trust the system. We have worked hard to try to get our unemployment. "