Members of Democratic House Caucus call on Governor to stop glossing over issues with unemployment claims

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – On Tuesday, several members of the Democratic House Caucus sent Governor Jim Justice a letter requesting that he stop glossing over issues that West Virginians are having getting their unemployment money.

“The Governor has thus far refused to take any responsibility for the failure of his administration to properly prepare for and execute a plan to deal with West Virginia’s unprecedented unemployment claims,” said Delegate Shawn Fluharty (D-Ohio). “Instead, his Chief Counsel blames West Virginians for ‘getting confused’ while filling out their claims. This is irresponsible and the opposite of good leadership in a time of crisis.”

The problems constituents are having do not lie solely on WorkForce WV; it’s true that the staff there has been overwhelmed even with the help from the WV National Guard and working in round-the-clock shifts. With more than 164,000 unemployment claims having been processed in West Virginia since March 16, it is clear that the employees are doing the best they can under these difficult circumstances.

“I have been sending my constituent concerns to [Commissioner] Scott Adkins for weeks,” said Delegate Lisa Zukoff (D-Marshall). “He’s been very helpful and many of my constituents appreciate having someone reach out to them and talk to them specifically about their claims.”

The issue that some members of the Democratic House Caucus see is that, in an effort to keep West Virginians calm about their current situations, Governor Justice is instead making their stress worse by saying all the claims have been processed and the phones are being answered.

“We appreciate the hard work of the staff at Workforce, but it is unacceptable for the Governor to say things are fine with the process when they aren’t,” said Delegate Doug Skaff, Jr. (D-Kanawha). “A lot of these people have never had to apply for unemployment before and they’re already embarrassed to need the help. To have the Governor and his Chief Counsel imply that they’re the problem with the process is unkind and not helpful.”

Several members of the Democratic House Caucus gathered the names and contact information for more than 100 West Virginians who are having issues getting their employment over two days last week. They sent the information directly to General Hoyer of the National Guard, Commissioner Adkins of Workforce WV, and Director Malinoski at the Department of Commerce. They are continuing to gather information for anyone who needs help, so please contact your Delegate if you are having problems being approved for your unemployment benefits.

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Tyler Barker
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