In the weeks following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s state of emergency declaration and ensuing stay-home and other executive orders, well over 1 million Michigan workers found themselves without a job, through no fault of their own, because of her actions.
Like them, I have been frustrated by the administration’s relatively flat-footed response to the overwhelming number of new jobless claims that have been filed with the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) as a result. It is disappointing the governor’s team did not adequately anticipate that taking away so many people’s jobs would mean UIA would require more resources and staff to handle the onslaught of claims, in what has become a terribly difficult situation for one-tenth of our state’s population.
While her administration has taken some steps to improve the problems at UIA, I continue to hear stories of people’s difficulties getting unemployment insurance payments, let alone getting their claims filed. More should and must be done.
For what it is worth, the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity published a COVID-19 employee FAQ page that may be able to answer some questions. It is available here: www.michigan.gov/leo/0,5863,7-336-78421_97241_98585---,00.html
Understandably, many constituents have reached out to my office for assistance. My staff and I are more than happy to do what we can to help and have been forwarding inquiries to the agency to help escalate people’s claims.
If people are having continued problems and need my help, please send an email to SenKLaSata@senate.michigan.gov with the following information:
Claim number or Letter ID number (not required, but it will help find your case faster)
A brief description of your problem
While I cannot guarantee UIA will contact those who email my office, it is the best way we currently can help.
I remain hopeful the governor will engage with the legislature to work together on a plan to reopen the state and get people back to work safely as we continue to battle COVID-19. In the meantime, I will continue to push UIA to improve their systems — it is the least they can do.
Kim LaSata is senator for Michigan’s 21st District.