CHICAGO (CBS) — Every day, we continue to hear from people waiting to receive the unemployment benefits they are owed.
Including one Chicagoan who was so frustrated they started recording their attempts to connect with IDES.
CBS 2’s Jim Williams is Working for Chicago. He reports it’s 100 days of trying to get through. CBS 2 got a glimpse of how hard it be to talk to a human being at the state office. It takes a lot of persistence.
When theaters and special events shutdown, the lighting company Olive King worked for lost lots of business.
“So me and all of my coworkers were laid off. So I was out of a job,” King said.
For Olive, what followed was 12 weeks of utter frustration. It’s the same story we’ve heard so many times from others: an inability to get through to the state to collect unemployment benefits.
“I tried to certify and I wasn’t able to certify due to a technical error,” King said, who had tried to certify for many days.
“I mean it’s been every day since March 20.”
So Olive had an idea: beginning Monday, record every attempt to connect with a human being at IDES.
“I’m going to stream this to make it a bit lighthearted to poke fun at how ridiculous the situation is for me, and for countless other people,” King said.
Finally, after more than 90 minutes of non-stop calling, a hopeful sign. The phone message:
“Our current wait time is approximately 31 minutes.”
Forty minutes after that message, Olive King got an IDES employee on the line. The employee resolved Olive King’s issue and said they could see 12 weeks worth of benefits in two to three business days.
“I’m very glad it is resolved but how many other cases are currently in limbo,” King asked.
You might wonder if someone in the state knew a frustrated Chicagoan was streaming live and recording all those attempts and decided to make a worker available. Olive believes that’s unlikely.
In a statement to CBS 2, IDES said:
“Under Illinois law, IDES is unable to comment about specific claimants or employers. IDES was not aware that any claimants have livestreamed attempts to contact, or have conversations with, IDES employees. Unfortunately, the issue the Department is facing in assisting claimants is not unique to Illinois and is due in large part to the hollowing out of the agency over the course of several years. The Department’s headcount is at an historical low with a budget that has decreased over several years. The already thinly stretched staff who process unemployment claims have been logging thousands of hours of overtime to meet the demand for unemployment questions, claims, and benefits.”