CHICAGO (CBS) — We got dozens of emails on Wednesday alone from people still not getting the answers they need from the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

The IDES callback system launched three weeks ago Thursday. Since then, CBS 2’s Tara Molina has exposed repeated failures of that system to actually work and to actually call people back.

On Wednesday night, there was a twist. One woman who tried to take her frustrations all the way to the top said she got hung up on – by the Governor’s office.

Alexis Byrd waited months on benefits and weeks for a callback from IDES to figure out why.

She finally took her issue to Governor’s office, but still didn’t have an answer Wednesday night.

Byrd lost her job in March.

“I didn’t qualify for regular unemployment,” she said.

So she waited patiently for the state’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance portal to open so she could apply for federal unemployment benefits.

But now that it’s almost August, Byrd said she can’t afford patience anymore.

“I do have bills that need to be paid,” she said. “My responsibility is to put food on the table for my family.”

Byrd waited two weeks for her first callback from IDES. She said she was told her pending issue was resolved and she’d get her benefits by this week.

That didn’t happen.

“When I check my KeyBank card, it says zero dollars,” she said. “She gave me the reassurance and comfort that I would receive my benefits, but I haven’t gotten any.”

So on Wednesday night, Byrd was back in the callback queue. But she said she doesn’t have another two weeks to spare, so she tried reaching Gov. JB Pritzker’s Office for help.

Byrd claims the Governor’s office staffer hung up on her.

“She said that his office isn’t meant for handling unemployment issues,” Byrd said of the Governor’s office representative who took the call. “She said to me, ‘What don’t you understand about what I’m telling you?’ And then she hung up on me.”

Molina followed up with the Governor’s office on Byrd’s claim, and others – people asking for the office to step in and help as they wait for the help they need, addressing unemployment claims and getting benefits.

On Wednesday night, we were still waiting for the Governor’s Office to address those concerns.

When it comes to callbacks, a spokeswoman for IDES has told us some people wait longer for a call because only a certain number of their staffers are trained to handle more complex calls, but they still haven’t told us how many staffers are handling those more complex issues.
We got dozens of emails on Wednesday alone from people still not getting the answers they need from the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

The IDES callback system launched three weeks ago Thursday. Since then, CBS 2’s Tara Molina has exposed repeated failures of that system to actually work and to actually call people back.

On Wednesday night, there was a twist. One woman who tried to take her frustrations all the way to the top said she got hung up on – by the Governor’s office.

Alexis Byrd waited months on benefits and weeks for a callback from IDES to figure out why.

She finally took her issue to Governor’s office, but still didn’t have an answer Wednesday night.

Byrd lost her job in March.

“I didn’t qualify for regular unemployment,” she said.

So she waited patiently for the state’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance portal to open so she could apply for federal unemployment benefits.

But now that it’s almost August, Byrd said she can’t afford patience anymore.

“I do have bills that need to be paid,” she said. “My responsibility is to put food on the table for my family.”

Byrd waited two weeks for her first callback from IDES. She said she was told her pending issue was resolved and she’d get her benefits by this week.

That didn’t happen.

“When I check my KeyBank card, it says zero dollars,” she said. “She gave me the reassurance and comfort that I would receive my benefits, but I haven’t gotten any,”

So on Wednesday night, Byrd was back in the callback queue. But she said she doesn’t have another two weeks to spare, so she tried reaching Gov. JB Pritzker’s Office for help.

Byrd claims the Governor’s office staffer hung up on her.

“She said that his office isn’t meant for handling unemployment issues,” Byrd said of the Governor’s office representative who took the call. “She said to me, ‘What don’t you understand about what I’m telling you?’ And then she hung up on me.”

Molina followed up with the Governor’s office on Byrd’s claim, and others – people asking for the office to step in and help as they wait for the help they need, addressing unemployment claims and getting benefits.

On Wednesday night, we were still waiting for the Governor’s Office to address those concerns.

When it comes to callbacks, a spokeswoman for IDES has told us some people wait longer for a call because only a certain number of their staffers are trained to handle more complex calls, but they still haven’t told us how many staffers are handling those more complex issues.

CBS 2 is committing to Working For Chicago, connecting you every day with the information you or a loved one might need about the jobs market, and helping you remove roadblocks to getting back to work.

We’ll keep uncovering information every day to help this community get back to work, until the job crisis passes. CBS 2 has several helpful items right here on our website, including a look at specific companies that are hiring, and information from the state about the best way to get through to file for unemployment benefits in the meantime.

Tara Molina