CHICAGO (CBS) — Imagine being out of work, waiting weeks to get a call back from the state’s unemployment office – and then when you do, the caller not only yawns, but says he has no idea what the problem is.

That is what happened to one south suburban woman. She was so disgusted that she sent the voicemail to CBS 2. Political Investigator Dana Kozlov talked with her Monday night.

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The yawn stands out. It came from an Illinois Department of Employment Security employee who was apparently struggling to stay awake during a callback to 30-year-old Leah Chiestder – who waited to weeks to get the call.

“Like what? What? What’s that about?” Chiestder said. “I was livid.”

The rest of the employee’s voicemail isn’t much better. In a message that difficult to understand, he is heard saying what sounds like: “Yeah, I don’t know what you’re calling about. (Garbled) once we resolved your issues. Ehhhhhh.”

“It made me very livid,” Chiestder said.

Chiestder got the voicemail last week, four months into her efforts to work out an unemployment benefit issue she has been having with IDES. It is a back pay issue that has left her with $102 a week to care for herself and her 2-year-old daughter.

“It’s been very confusing. It’s been hard. And I wouldn’t wish anything on anybody like this,” she said.

Not only did the IDES staffer who called her back lack any knowledge of her issue, but he also only called once – not twice, as requested.

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“That’s frickin’ weird,” the IDES staffer is heard saying. “OK. Have a good day.”


And this is not an isolated matter. We’ve heard from dozens of people who have waited for weeks or more for an IDES callback, and when they get one, it is of little help.

The unemployment agency launched the callback system in July as a way to handle a massive influx of calls. It is part of the state’s $22 million contract with Deloitte to upgrade and improve the system.

Chiestder still can’t believe it.

“You have people like this who are supposed to help us and make us feel secure with our situation,” Chiestder said. “It just doesn’t make any sense.”

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.

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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.