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We the undersigned, have been laid off by the effects of the coronavirus crisis and have tried to apply for unemployment compensation. We have been frustrated with the system and have experienced delays in getting our benefits.
We have found it impossible to get through for information on our claims on telephones, chat or email. Many of us have not received the pin numbers that we need to apply for benefits. We cannot find out if our claims are going through or if there is anything wrong. Many of us are in desperate need of these benefits in order to support ourselves and our families.
The department has been understaffed for years, and communication by telephone has been impossible even when the unemployment rate was at its lowest point. Now we understand that the state is laying off thousands of employees, including many from the Department of Labor and Industry. Why aren’t some of these workers being made available to answer phones, get out pins and help handle our claims?
We call for you to put some of the thousands of employees your administration has laid off back to work, answering emails and calls. Let people know where they stand if something goes wrong with their application. The Philadelphia Unemployment Project has already proved capable of answering hundreds of calls and emails with a single organizer with a cell phone. Adding phone lines and workers should be easily accomplished and the phones need to be answered even after the current crush has passed.
On behalf of the thousands of unemployed Pennsylvanians, we request your prompt and thoughtful response to this minimal proposal. The unemployment service must ANSWER THEIR PHONES. People’s inquiries about if and how they will be able to survive during this crisis need to be answered. We urge you to take this opportunity to improve the unemployment compensation system for workers who have been thrown out of work by the coronavirus pandemic. The improvements you make now will have a lasting effect on how unemployed Pennsylvanians access this vital service to which we are all entitled.