Out of work Pennsylvanians call for resignation of PA Labor Secretary Jerry Oleksiak, citing late and missing benefit payments, jammed phone lines, and ignored pleas for help.
A group of working Pennsylvanians who have lost their jobs as a direct result of the COVID19 crisis have called for the resignation of Gerard Oleksiak, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. The Unemployment Organizing Committee formed in the aftermath of the mass layoffs resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and created a network for unemployed workers to share information and jointly demand fixes for the failures of the Unemployment Compensation office in the state.
Florence Corcoran, a physical therapist who lost her job on March 20th, is a UOC member who has not received any payments from the UC office. She called the communications she received from the Department of Labor “effectively indiscernible.” “We need people to answer the phones, hire more people, answer emails, do anything to get people their unemployment compensation. It’s a little ridiculous that I’ve been waiting 17 weeks.”
Another out of work Philadelphian, Andrew W., said, “I’m just about out of savings to get me through May and now June. I’m literally on the food lines but my bills are late.” He was laid off in early April. “I apologize for being frustrated but I am. And I’m worried.”
A letter drafted by the UOC notes that “over 1.7 million individuals in Pennsylvania are unemployed as a direct result of the pandemic. To date, approximately 280,000 citizens of the Commonwealth have not received any unemployment benefits. These claims date back to mid-March. Your failure to address the systemic problems that the department continues to allow going unresolved is unacceptable.”
The Unemployment Organizing Committee works alongside the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, a non-profit organization that since 1975 has advocated for unemployed and low income Pennsylvanians, fair wages, and just housing policies.
The letter calling for Sec. Oleksiak’s resignation below.