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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency understaffed by layoffs, leave claimants upset by delays for answers

Michigan residents wait outside of a Michigan UIA Problem
Resolution Office in Plainfield Twp. during the winter months,
 in hopes to answers for unemployment claims questions.
"As the U.S. Congress is set to debate extending long-term unemployment benefits for up to 1.3 million Americans, cuts to Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) test the patience of jobless workers attempts to receive 20 weeks of state funded benefits."

Michigan's UIA laid off up to 400 employees, comprising of 225 permanent staff members and 177 limited-term employees on August 31, 2012.

Numbers of UIA temporarily placed problem resolution offices as a result of the layoffs, closed statewide. A reduced number employees are available to answer phone calls questions in Michigan via a singular toll free phone number for up to 413,000 jobless workers, according to the State Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) November 2013 report.

Reaching Unemployment Claims Representatives at UIA present challenges for state residents as Michigan's jobless rate remains stubbornly high at 8.8%, the fourth highest in the nation. Calls to reach UIA via phone can take either days or weeks in lieu of a reasonable expected response of an hour.

Westland, Michigan resident Annabelle Stevens, a single Mother of two, described her frustrations reach Michigan UIA toll-free number for questions on her claim.
"It's ridiculous to call UIA, they never answer the phone," said Stevens. "The worse part of all is I worked for years before my laid off to receive unemployment if necessary and I'm insulted by being treated as a welfare case".  
Stevens called UIA for four days over a five hours she noted, and was greeted either a busy signal or was informed by a voice message to call back later. Disappointed in efforts to reach UIA, Stevens drove 30 miles to UIA's Problem Resolution Office in Detroit but was informed by a worker to come the next day, as up to 500 numbers for assisting claimants were dispersed by 9:30 am.
"I could not believe it. The worker told me that if I did not arrive at the office by 8:30 am in the morning, my chances of being seen any day they are open is nearly impossible because as she expressed people start lining up outside of the building as early as 5:30 am in the morning I was told". Stevens noted. 
"The employee said on a typically, Detroit's UIA Problem Resolution office stops giving out numbers to speak with a worker by 8:45 am yet, the office posted time of closing is at 4:30 pm in the afternoon."
Responding to complaints to reach Unemployment Claims Representative on the phone or in person during the heights of Michigan's job crisis in 2009, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (D) hired up to 200 limited-term employees on a short-term basis which was originally supposed to last six months.

The agency kept the additional staff members to keep up with demand until August 2012, when Governor Rick Snyder (R) Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs laid-off UIA's limited-term employees along with 225 permanent staff members.

Michigan resident Marlon Easley leaving Speakpipe message for Independent Underground Radio LIVE detail setbacks he received to reach Michigan UIA problem resolution call center and MARVIN -- the states' unemployment claims certification system, on December 31, 2013.

In Washington, D.C., Senate Majority leader Harry Reid announced plans to vote on an extension of federal long-term unemployment benefits January 6.
“It’s the right thing to do. We have long-term unemployment. That’s why the American people support this – Democrats, Independents and Republicans,” Reid said on CBS’ “Face the Nation January 5
The federal extension for claimants expired on December 28, after both Houses of Congress failed to include a continuation of unemployment benefits for up to 1.3 million Americans in the budgetary agreement reached by Senators Patty Murray (D-Washington) and Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, (R-Virginia) in a memorandum forwarded to House Republicans on January 4 with the months' legislative agenda, did not include a scheduled U.S. House vote on extending federal unemployment benefits.

Unemployed claimant Annabelle Stevens of Westland states for now, she would prefer to see employees added to Michigan's UIA system for claimants can receive the 20 weeks of initial state funded benefits without unnecessary delays.
"It obvious Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency cannot handle the load of layoff workers with questions about their claims and checks," said Stevens. "Hire me and about 10 other people I know to answer phones at the call center. Immediately, this move would take eleven people off the rolls and help reduce Michigan's ridiculous unemployment rate."
Stevens also expressed Governor Rick Snyder's promise that Michigan's Right to Work law signed December 2012, would create mass employment in the state has not lived up to the "hype."
"The Governor said after he signed the Right to Work law a flood of jobs would come to Michigan. I was laid off in November (2013). Since my laid off, I've kept a steady pace of placing 25 applications for claimed positions open on online job search boards each week," Stevens detailed.

To date, I've only have received two calls for interviews, where it appears the employers either did not have a real job to offer or hired someone else. So, in my opinion the Right to Work hype was nothing but another lie by Governor Rick Snyder."

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