CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois taxpayers will pay $23 million to a Chicago company to set up a call center and computer system to help process unemployment claims for gig workers, but CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov has learned the May 11 date the governor keeps talking about to get those new benefits could be in jeopardy.
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These state contracts are specifically intended to help process the claims of 1099 and gig workers, those who prior to the pandemic were not eligible for unemployment benefits. They have been waiting almost two months for help.
Now sources say state employees are getting no information on the new system, so their wait might get even longer.
“They want you to file a claim, get denied,” said Kevin McGourty
He is right. For self-employed and so-called gig workers like him, it’s exactly what Gov. JB Pritzker says is the first step toward getting unemployment benefits.
“Because it will make it much easier when we actually launch the independent contractor system for them to get paid,” Prtizker said.
McGourty did and got denied. He kept following up with the Illinois Department of Employment Security, hopeful the new IDES system and call center to help with these new claims would be ready with his money by May 11, the state’s projected date. Then he got some bad news from an IDES staffer.
“The individual I spoke to was very professional and very helpful, but he also told me that he knew nothing about the payments being made supposedly by May 11.
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov also spoke with a source inside IDES who said the same — that when it comes to the new computer system and call center staffers have been given “zero guidance.”
Consulting giant Deloitte was awarded the no-bid state contracts for the work. It’s getting $9.49 million for the pandemic unemployment assistance computer system and another $12.74 million for the call center, which is supposed to staff 200 additional call takers. IDES spokesperson Rebecca Cisco said the center is now up and running.
“I’ve tried on the virtual call center for the last two weeks it’s been on the system, but you’re not talking to a live person,” McGourty said.
So what’s the likelihood of getting gig worker benefits in 10 days?
“I can’t speak to what date on which they will get, you know, their cards would be charged,” said Pritzker.
McGourty said that IDES staffer painted an even grimmer picture.
“He was unresponsive because he didn’t have an answer because he doesn’t know anything,” he said.
When asked Friday Pritzker did say the state was prepared to launch the system the week of May 11. But launching and payments are two different things.
A Deloitte executive deferred all questions to IDES. That spokesperson says the terms of the contracts have been fully executed, but current staffers are in the dark.