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Still no word on when gig workers can access Illinois unemployment insurance

Thursday, Apr 9, 2020

* Senate GOP Leader Brady…

Governor Pritzker,

I am writing to you on behalf of my caucus, and the citizens we represent, who have made hundreds of calls to our offices to express their frustration about their inability to access critical unemployment benefits.

Residents throughout Illinois impacted by the economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak are struggling to pay their rent and feed their families. During these unprecedented times, we must do everything we can to ensure they are getting the help they need as soon as possible.

One segment of our population impacted by this economic crisis are those self-employed “gig” workers who, according to ADP Research Institute, make up 18 percent of our workforce. Under the recently signed federal stimulus law, these gig workers will now be eligible for unemployment benefits, and states must modify their websites in order to review these claims. This is most welcome news. However, it is our understanding that this modification to the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s (IDES) website could take months.

Weeks ago, our constituents were told the IDES website would be improved, and access would be enhanced. However, based on what we are hearing from our constituents, delays with the site continue and frustrations continue to mount.

With the addition of gig workers, timely access to this site is even more critical, especially given the fact that we are hearing other states already have a system in place to handle gig claims.

When can we tell our constituents they will be able to apply for these crucial resources?


Bill Brady
Senate Republican Leader

* I asked for a response from the governor’s press secretary, Jordan Abudayyeh…

This administration is committed to lifting up working families during this crisis. IDES is working around the clock to handle the unprecedented volumes of claims and improvements have been made while the office continues to work through the historic number of claims. The CARES Act created a brand new program for workers who have never participated in the unemployment insurance system. The state has contracted with a vendor to get that new program up and running as soon as possible. If lawmakers have ideas on how to improve the process or expand resources for working families even further we’re happy to work with them.

* Related…

* Wanted urgently: People who know a half century-old computer language so states can process unemployment claims

…Adding… From the ILGOP…

This response from Governor Pritzker to criticism for the failures of our unemployment claim system is unacceptable. This is understandably an unprecedented time with major strain on our state agency processing unemployment benefits that help struggling families. First it became clear Illinois is falling behind other states in testing. We can’t afford to fail to provide struggling workers with the help they need to survive. The Governor’s response to reasonable questions amounts to “we are doing the best we can” and if lawmakers have better ideas, “you can do the job.” It is an abdication of leadership to shove responsibility for needed solutions for HIS state agency onto state lawmakers. Leaders lead; they don’t pass the buck when challenged. Governor, do better.

In contrast, here is how a couple Dem Governors are responding differently to the strain:

    Cuomo (NY): “I apologize for the pain — it must be infuriating to deal with.”

    Newsome (CA): “We all have to do more and to do better.”

    And NY has found a creative way to deal with the claim load - partnered with Google for a new platform that is rolling out today, moving to a call center, and hiring hundreds of new workers to process claims.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Sez Me - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 10:03 am:

    “The buck stops with me.” Pritzker

    “I take credit for everything being done, any shortcomings are the president’s fault.” Also Pritzker

    “New York, Washington, California? Why would they need more immediate federal assistance than Illinois.” Might as well be Pritzker

  2. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 10:10 am:

    == - Sez Me - ==
    Jesus, dude, give it a rest for five minutes

    == The state has contracted with a vendor ==
    Please tell us it isn’t Deloitte

  3. - Montrose - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 10:15 am:

    Bill Brady has to do what he has to do. I get it. I do think IDES is doing everything it can to get things up and running as quickly as possible. I think we all easily forget in this rapid fire crisis that we are trying to bring systems online in a matter of days that in normal times would take many months to get right.

  4. - Amber Ale - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 10:16 am:

    There be dragons here for gig economy companies. If you get UI, are you not an employee (as opposed to an independent contractor)? If you are an employee, then minimum wage, work comp etc all become requirements.

  5. - efudd - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 10:16 am:

    Sez Me-

    Using your, er, logic, you wouldn’t want Pritzker advocating for more assistance than any other state?

    I guess Trump supporters are truly past the point of no return.

  6. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 10:16 am:

    === “I take credit for everything being done, any shortcomings are the president’s fault.” Also Pritzker===

    I know that’s what you *want*, but this ain’t Facebook, and mixing words with your thoughts, no thanks.

    === “New York, Washington, California? Why would they need more immediate federal assistance than Illinois.” Might as well be Pritzker===

    The 50, the FIVE-OH governors are bidding against each other in hopes to save lives for their states.

    What we need is a Federal Emergency Management Agency that would end that stress.


    To the Post,

    The website and dealing at IDES… and DOC… and DCFS… these problems, and this IDES problem specifically, the sheer stress of this crisis, now add new terms to it, like “gig” jobs to IDES here, there is a real concern that the missing focus at some agencies, at the real agency level will be the real issues once the peak has passed and moving forward in the real today, in real time, and going forward.

    The agencies need direction, yes, but they need to realize their new charge here, or in this case all the tools they have to fulfill their charge need to meet this challenge in the compartmentalization of the wonky governing “others” find too boring or tedious to see through its completion.

    The wonks and the nuts and bolts to implement policy need to meet these challenges.

  7. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 10:25 am:

    === There be dragons here for gig economy companies. If you get UI, are you not an employee (as opposed to an independent contractor)? If you are an employee, then minimum wage, work comp etc all become requirements.===
    There was an exception made for this emergency, but the fact that Lyft, Uber and others don’t pay unemployment insurance is controversial, no doubt.
    Does this mean employers who do pay unemployment insurance are off the hook? Does this mean that gig employers have to retroactively pay, or their workers?

  8. - the Edge - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 10:25 am:

    I think the numbers will show what occurred in Illinois did flatten the curve; while drastic (shelter at home for some rural communities questioned) it appears Illinois’ efforts will suppress worse case scenarios. The Feds could have done better in coordinating purchasing by the States.

  9. - RetiredStateEmployee - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 10:31 am:

    This is a problem that goes back decades. As the government has been hollowed out, the staff to upgrade infrastructure as well as investment in new software and training is gone. Note “The state has contracted with a vendor to …” No longer is there sufficient staff to maintain and develop computer systems in house. I even read a CMS document some years ago that discouraged in house development. You can see a bridge deteriorate but you can’t see the software wearing out until it fails.

  10. - Generic Drone - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 10:39 am:

    Retired, nailed it. Hollow in out government services had consequences.

  11. - Cubs in '16 - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 10:47 am:

    The only thing Pritzker is guilty of here is maybe overselling how quickly upgrades could be completed. He inherited an extremely outdated system as have governors before him. They all seem surprised to learn just how outdated the systems are but nothing is done to fix that.

  12. - Father Ted - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 10:52 am:

    Another +1 for Retired. I watched it happen at my last public employee role. Infrastructure- including buildings, systems, etc. was often deferred indeterminately in favor of small projects that could be done with available funds. Major infrastructure projects, often required some type of a direct grant for that specific project. These are not easy to get even in the best of times.

  13. - efudd - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 10:56 am:

    RetiredStateEmployee x 1,000

    Anytime someone says private can replace public service I’ve had one word for them.


  14. - Classic - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 11:30 am:

    I’m literally laughing out loud. Is Pritzker accountable? No. Do “Governors own”? No. The answer is we should have hired a bunch more state employees.

    I know, I bet if we added an extra point to the cola or got another pension sweetener, then we’d have no problems at all. Classic.

  15. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 11:39 am:

    === The answer is we should have hired a bunch more state employees.===

    The sheer volume of these applications, the new-ish distinction to apply for benefits, and the lacking by this agriculture to handle the electronic means to file…

    The failings are obvious, the problem(s) are obvious too.

    The fact you don’t see more folks are needed in the short term to handle this is Facebook ignorance to feel good about yourself? I hope it helped you.

    The adults will discuss the realities of the lacking and solutions.

  16. - City Zen - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 12:09 pm:

    Earmark a portion of Illinois’ wireless taxes for investments in IT infrastructure.

  17. - Blue Dog Dem - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 12:13 pm:

    The other day, Rich posted a question regarding JBs performance. Again, average. Good job on the need to stay home. Poor job on future plans for the jobless. These unemployment claim failures falls squarely on his shoulders. His final grade when this is over will be somewhere between a C and D-.

  18. - Flapdoodle - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 12:25 pm:

    BDD — Usually final grades are issued when things are over, not right in the middle. Grades issued right in the middle tend to reflect more on the grader wishes than on the gradee’s performance. Just saying, ya know.

  19. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 12:31 pm:

    == I’m literally laughing out loud. Is Pritzker accountable? No. Do “Governors own”? No==

    We here at Capitol Fax appreciate the contribution, Mrs. Miller, but don’t you have an election to work on? Those deep state conspiracy theories aren’t going to post themselves on Facebook, you know

  20. - Demoralized - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 12:45 pm:

    ==Poor job on future plans for the jobless==

    You want a full plan right now? I’m sure there will be discussions but based on your previous comments and now this one you want a plan right this second on what is going to happen when this is all over. Nobody. Knows. People are working as hard as they can. You may not see it but they are. But feel free to sit on your perch out there and “grade” everyone right now. You really have lost it BDD.

  21. - the Patriot - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 12:54 pm:

    ==People who know a half century-old computer language so states can process unemployment claims==

    The complete disregard for State computer systems will be one of the big lessons I hope we learn.

    This predates JB but Madigan has his name on almost every state budget for 20 years. Give away programs and pork took priority over modernizing how we work.

    We completley lack the capacity to run a 21st century operation and it is hurting a lot of people.

  22. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 1:01 pm:

    ===but Madigan===

    I dunno, do I laugh until I get light-headed, or “cry” that everything ever… is Madigan.

    Self parody comments like this only make the partisan happy.

  23. - Molly Maguire - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 1:16 pm:

    I heard IDES was hiring so I nosed around, but couldn’t find any openings. I am a self-employed, unemployed, highly computer literate person ready to work from home and help reduce the backlog. Or, file unemployment. Any suggestions?

  24. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 1:56 pm:

    ===Any suggestions?===

    There are fifty two IT job openings right now at the State of Illinois jobs website. I don’t know where in Illinois you live, you can use the filter to narrow the field. Other jobs like administrator might include some IT skills. I would start at the State of Illinois jobs webpage..

  25. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 2:00 pm:

    === I know, I bet if we added an extra point to the cola or got another pension sweetener, then we’d have no problems at all. Classic.===
    So Classic are you saying that these jobs aren’t attractive enough for applicants? I always assumed that there wasn’t enough money in the budget to hire the correct number of people.

  26. - Older and Taller - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 2:19 pm:

    Giving UI benefits to “gig” workers is, as Jordan stated, an entirely new benefit created by Congress. That means there is no computer infrastructure to handle their claims. And since UI benefits are based on wages previously reported by the employer to IDES - which has not been done in this case because these workers were not previously eligible - how is IDES supposed to figure out what the benefit should be? This is not an easy task made nearly impossible when coupled with historic increases in the volume of “traditional” claims and IDES is hamstrung by illness, etc.

    The Governor’s actions on UI have made the state eligible for more administrative funds from the feds… but those funds have not been received.

    It’s overly simplistic to say ‘just get it done’.

  27. - Demoralized - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 3:49 pm:

    ==amounts to “we are doing the best we can” and if lawmakers have better ideas, “you can do the job.” ==

    That is not what he said. He said he is open to all ideas.

  28. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 4:53 pm:

    Part of the problem is that states are seeking guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor on the process for implementing these programs.

  29. - One man band - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 6:07 pm:

    Thought: there are many people who work solo and not eligible for the downstate small business stabilization program. To be eligible an applicant must be the owner + have one employee. Some barbers work alone, carpenters, plumbers, lawn maintenance, auto mechanics, painters, everything from dog walkers to nannys…the list goes on and on.
    Without these Micro-small entrepreneurs the local
    service economy Is crippled and these people are out of business and out of work. There should be some assistance for these folks. Anyone who works solo and files a Illinois tax return should be eligible for some sort of aid.
    Perhaps this could be brought to the attention of the governors staff and the downstate small business stabilization program reviewed for possible change.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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