CHICAGO (CBS) — Seeking solutions for people in Illinois who can’t get the unemployment benefits they are entitled to.

CBS 2 has been revealing problems with the Illinois Department of Employment Security since the pandemic began, nearly one year ago.

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The Illinois AFL-CIO testified at an Illinois Senate Labor Committee hearing this morning that the problems its union members are facing pre-date the pandemic.

“Many of the problems claimants were experiencing during the spring and summer of last year were the result of years of disinvestment in IDES, as we’ve seen in multiple other state agencies that provide valuable services to those who need them most. IDES was attempting to manage unemployment levels caused by a once-in-a-multi-generation pandemic, using decades-old technology, and with hundreds of unfilled vacancies in their ranks,” said Illinois AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Pat Devaney.

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Devaney went on to praise IDES for making some communications improvements during a difficult and overwhelming time of high claim demand, including dealing with hundreds of thousands of cases of fraud.

The labor organization called on Gov. JB Pritzker to propose increased spending for improvements for IDES and other service-oriented state agencies in his budget address today.

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The Illinois AFL-CIO said, during the pandemic, lowest wage earners have been hit the hardest.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff