CHICAGO (CBS) — After hearing from so many laid-off workers – frustrated by failures of the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s new callback system – we asked IDES and the Governor’s office how many people are staffing the phone lines, how that staffing breaks down, and where those people are.
Here’s what we’ve learned.
Last week, Debbie Ogden told us she waited for a call back from IDES and never got one. As CBS 2’s Tara Molina reported, and IDES spokeswoman last week told us some people in Ogden’s shoes – unemployed because of the pandemic and waiting for their benefits – will wait longer for a callback regarding issues with their claims.
That’s because there are two sets of staffers making those calls.
One set is IDES employees, who are trained to handle more complex issues. The other is new contract employees, working in the agency’s virtual call center.
We wanted to know how that staffing breaks down. A week later, we finally have an answer.
A total of 120 IDES staffers, trained to handle more difficult issues, are working on callbacks.
The other 360 people returning calls are in the virtual call center handling simpler claims.
More relief is coming, though, with 100 more virtual call center staffers starting on Friday.
“I would call it a complete failure,” Earl Wallace – who also got stuck waiting for a call back from IDES, said on Tuesday.
As for where those virtual call center staffers are coming from?
“We are trying very hard to employ as many people in Illinois as we can,” Gov. JB Pritzker said on Wednesday.
Earlier this week, we got our hands on the IDES contract for adding call takers to handle the coronavirus jobs crisis.
It raised questions about where the new staffers are based, so we asked for proof that all new hires are from Illinois.
On Thursday evening, the Governor’s office provided that information. Through the state’s contract with Deloitte, all new call takers who are hired are required to provide an Illinois address where they will work.
Thursday marks three weeks since the IDES callback model debuted, Molina is told staffers have made about 135,000 callbacks in that time.
And again, those additional 100 virtual call center staffers start on Friday.
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.