Unemployed workers still waiting for jobless benefits plead with state to expand services

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Published: Nov. 5, 2020 at 8:33 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 5, 2020 at 8:39 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Protestors took their demands for more accessible unemployment services to the lawn of the unemployment office Thursday.

The Hawaii Workers Center organized the rally. The organization helps low-wage, immigrant and non-union workers.

“What we’re asking, almost begging, is to have some in-person services,” said Rev. Sam Domingo with the Hawaii Workers Center.

“So that these people will be able to speak face to face with someone that will help them process their claims more proficiently.”

In a letter written by the Hawaii Workers Center to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations' executive director, the organization urged the agency to go back to in-person filing, increase the capacity of call centers, and invest in technology for the website.

A letter in response from Hawaii DLIR Executive Director Anna Perreira-Eustaquio said that the DLIR has hired new employers and adjudicators to address concerns, but that in person services won’t be available for now.

“Taking into consideration the health and safety of individuals seeking benefits and the DLIR employees who serve them, the DLIR believes it can be most effective in the provision of services under the current arrangement,” Perreira-Eustaquio wrote, in the letter.

“We continue to evaluate the situation and will provide in-person services when it is determined that we can do so in a safe manner and more effectively.”

Perreira-Eustaquio also wrote that there are “complicated federal requirements” the department must follow to receive federal Funds for the Unemployment Insurance Program.

She said the DLIR is frustrated with those requirements, but must adhere to them.

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