Sunday, May 03, 2009

An open letter to Governor Schwarzenegger from an unemployed California

Dear Governor:

I hope you or someone will take a moment of time to read my letter here about my experiences with EDD. I know you are trying hard to get this economy corrected while also managing the multitude of problems within the state of California: the air we breathe,this flu, the ocean on our coasts, the redwoods, the homelessness, the budget, the prisons. It's a very long list

Unfortunately for me, I am one of those 2.2 million unemployed Californians, Governor. I have tried really hard to find a job but just like all the others out there, we continue to hope that something out there exists that will pay us enough to pay our bills and have something left over for food. We are all looking with not much luck. Some have even given up, lost

I turned to EDD for unemployment the first weekend after losing my job. Putting those forms online was brilliant. No waiting in lines, getting everything submitted correctly from the homey confines of one's house or library or even the EDD office with help all around really is quite helpful. What happened after that was anything but helpful.

My next contact from EDD was a letter which assigns me a telephone interview with an "interviewer" who will ask me questions about why I am no longer working at my former job. The letter has these questions listed on the back. It also has the time and date for this interview. I am warned that if I cannot make this interview I must contact EDD and reschedule. If I do not do so I will automatically be rejected for benefits. Very strict, very precise language as to the consequences for my not making this appointment.

But what, if any, consequences are there for EDD not showing up for the appointment? That's right, they never called. They didn't call Thursday or Friday either. I was literally on house arrest for all the rest of that week waiting for a call from an interviewer. No call ever came. Governor, is this any way to run a business?

In the meantime, I tried calling in to EDD. Anyone who has ever tried this knows what a battle this is. It takes literally over four minutes of pressing key pads to get to the end of the line and guess what happens? They literally hang up on you! The system is overloaded and they can't take your call so they just say hang up and say try again, click. Why on earth doesn't this system do that at the beginning of the call instead of making you hang on and go through all the bells and voices only to find out there is no one to help at the end? Click, no luck this time. Try again. It's not like being unemployed isn't frustrating enough but have to go through all this, too, is just down right aggravating.

I have also sent emails through the EDD site and that page says EDD has three days to answer my email. What this all says to me is that there are not enough people working there at EDD to serve the vast numbers of unemployed in California. How would a business that depends on good service survive if they had to only answer their email in three days? Not very well, I would imagine. In those three days they would have found somewhere else to go.

Because I sent my initial email on Wednesday I did not get a response until Sat with a phone number to call until Saturday. Of course that office was closed on a Saturday. I called first thing Monday morning and talked to a man who was not a trained interviewer but would ask me questions and pass his notes on to a trained interviewer who would then make a decision. So I was not interviewed by a trained staff, I don't know what his position was but he clearly did not have any idea of labor law. I had to explain to him the difference between hourly and exempt positions which is critical to my case. There were other issues that he did not understand and I had to spend a considerable amount of my interview time educating him about all manner of issues. Again, Governor, having enough staff, trained staff aleviates this problem and gives everyone a level playing.

Needless to say, I was turned down for unemployment. I am completing my appeal to be in the mail this week, well ahead of my 20 day deadline. However, I am concerned how long the appeal will take. My friend went through the whole process. He was terminated in October, appealed in November and his appeal wasn't heard until March. That is a six month process. It occurred even before the incredibly high unemployment California is experiencing now.

It is also my understanding that local Assembly and Senate offices are swamped with the same requests, helping get people through this process. Why? Because the EDD offices are so understaffed that if anyone's case falls outside a very small definition of qualifying for unemployment then we are denied what we have paid into and have to do the work to get our unemployment insurance. Again, more staffing and full training, if for only for temporary staffing, up to a year, helps us out here struggling, can you please find a way to help? The flu will pass faster than this recession but the recession will leave more disaster in its wake.

Thank you for listening. I assure you many lives hang in the balance these days. We need you as our advocate now more than ever.

Your constituent,

The unemployed but trying to be hopeful,

Gloria Nieto

I am still not recovered from the Sharks spectacular crash and burn in the first round of the playoffs so no mention of the Stanley Cup here. Can't even think about another season yet.


Anonymous said...

Ah this is where we get to leave comments. Gloria, stop wasting my air.

Jo said...

I am always amazed with people who take the time to complain that one is wasting their time, or in this case air.

miss wild thing said...

Hm, my blog, I get to say what I want. so you with you no balls and no name, quit taking up space here.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gloria,

I was finding some EDD information for my elder brother who just got laid off lately, and came across your article. I heard the similar story not only from my brother but some of my ex-co-workers as well. Did you mail this letter to Sacramento? Good luck to you!

Anonymous said...

Amiable brief and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you as your information.

Anonymous said...

I really like when people are expressing their opinion and thought. So I like the way you are writing

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