Monday, November 30, 2020

Federal flaw spurs unemployment fraud letters

     There are many ways to find out you’ve been fired. The classic “Could you come into my office?” delivered with grim faux casualness on a Friday afternoon. The mass layoff email. Chicago radio folks sometimes learn of their professional demise in a Robert Feder column.
     I was informed of my unemployment by letter, on Monday, Nov. 16. About 4 p.m. I was about to walk the dog and checked the mail. There was an innocuous window envelope from a P.O. Box in Springfield. Its very blankness screamed, “Open me!”
     “UI Finding” the letter was headed. For a moment I thought it was UL, Underwriters Laboratories. Then a few key phrases caught my eye: “Last Employer” and “Unemployed Reason: Laid-Off (Lack of Work)” and “Last Day Worked: 04/29/2020.”
     I took off my coat. The dog could wait.
     “Honey!” I called. Though I didn’t need savvy legal advice to immediately call the 800 number on the letter while firing off an email to the newspaper’s human resources department.
     “Welcome to the Illinois Department of Employment Security Benefit Payment Control Division,” chirped the voice over the phone. “Your call may be monitored for quality or training purposes ...” It took a few tries to worm my way to where I needed to be.
     “Rather than wait on hold or call multiple times, you will receive a call,” the voice lied.
     I’m still waiting.

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  1. IDES is a pathetic joke, that was overwhelmed by pandemic job losses & can't seem to get its computer system expanded to handle the need.
    Even weirder is that all the TV stations show the IDES office on Lawrence, just west of Western for their live shots, even though it's closed.

  2. My first reaction after reading a couple sentences of the column this morning was, "He won't give up the blog, will he?" I wonder how many heart attacks that "glitch" has caused so far.


  3. I think that IDES is a fine department that has to deal with a lot of unpleasant and complicated crap. They exist in order to help people. I have dealt with them from both sides - as an employer responding to claims and as an unemployed person myself. They have always been professional.
    I hope nobody is surprised that they don’t have state-of-art technology. My guess is that some of their stuff is so old they don’t even like to talk about it. Maybe you haven’t heard about our state finances?

    1. Hmmm...what do you base that "they exist in order to help people" on? Because I didn't really see it. Related to your last sentence, yes, there are certainly REASONS they are falling down on the job. But that doesn't obviate the truth of the situation.

  4. I dealt with them in the 70s and 80s, long before they gussied up their title (Employment Security? Gimme a break!), back when they were still known as Illinois State Employment Service. They've always been a joke. I've never known anyone who found long-term employment through that state agency.

    They were still using microfiche readers when private businesses and industries had already computerized. Many of the mostly dead-end, low-wage, no-future listings on the "fiche" (pronounced "feesh") were either flled or unavailable for other reasons. Affirmative action listings. "Operation Able" listings (applicants had to be at least 55). Or "mandatory" listings...which meant that the job had either been filled or that it didn't exist, but had to be listed to fullfill some government edict or Federal contract.

    Don't feel bad, Illinois job-seekers. I went through the same mishegoss in Colorado, California, and especially in Florida. SSDS...same shit, different states. Which says as much about me as it does about state bureaucrats. I was the wiseguy who ignored the wisest advice. Learn a marketable skill, I was told. The optimum word in that sentence is "marketable." In the combat zone of job search, Rule Number One is always: Skill or be skilled.

  5. Before I saw where this post was going, I gasped in horror, thinking the Sun-Times had inexplicably let you go. Don’t do that to me! I’m a simple, trusting soul.

    1. Sorry about that. I try to inject a little pep into the lede.

    2. No worries. I love a roller coaster ride. All’s well that ends well.


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