Frustrated workers across the state protest failing unemployment system

Frustrated workers across the state are protesting the unemployment system.

Multiple groups of about a dozen or two people took to the streets to take a stand against Florida’s failing unemployment system.

WINK News Investigative Reporter Sara Girard has been following Florida’s unemployment crisis from the start of the pandemic. She spoke with one of the organizers on Wednesday.

Bonnie Armstrong, protest organizer (WINK News)

Although Bonnie Armstrong couldn’t be there to protest, she’s taking care of family out of state, she knew this had to be done.

“We were unemployed through no fault of our own,” she said. “People are going on three months without income.”

People in Tallahassee, Orlando and Tampa shared their stories on the streets.

“It’s been incredibly frustrating, dealing with the system and trying to get through to legislators, trying to get through to anybody at DEO to answer questions about your claim and trying to just get in the system,” said Judy Tanzosch, an unemployed Tallahassee resident.

“Our protests might be small, but we have so many voices outside of that,” Armstrong said.

Born out of a growing Facebook group, Armstrong’s movement has been rallying thousands online. She helped organized another protest in Naples back in April.

“I really feel like we are making a difference,” she said.

Florida unemployment protest, June 10, 2020. (WINK News)

Armstrong waited seven weeks to get a single payment from the Department of Economic Opportunity, and she isn’t alone.

“There are still people from back in March who haven’t been paid anything, just a payment here or there. There’s no rhyme or reason,” she said.

Tuesday, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee discussed issues with unemployment nationwide. Some senators say unemployment payments are discouraging people from going back to work. Armstrong says that’s not the case here.

“When we’re told you can’t work, and we think you’re lazy and you’re gonna sit on unemployment, it’s really quite offensive,” she said.

Armstrong says she’s furloughed and hasn’t been called back to work.

According to number updated on the unemployment claims dashboard Wednesday night, the DEO says about 97% of all eligible claimants have been paid — more than 1.3 million people.

That does not mean people have been paid in full.

We continue to hear from many of you who say you’re missing multiple weeks of payments and others who are pending or eligible and still have nothing.

For ongoing updates and information on unemployment, follow WINK News Investigative Reporter Sara Girard on Twitter and Facebook.

She also updates the WINK News FAQ: Unemployment Resources page as information is received.

Reporter:Sara Girard
Writer:Briana Harvath
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