Opinion: Can’t Get Your Unemployment Check? This Will Make You Furious
A week ago Thursday, I was appalled as I sat watching Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo address the failures of the unemployment system at the governor’s daily COVID-19 press briefing.
A week later, reading an incredible article on NJ.com about how this was a disaster waiting to happen for many years, my head is ready to implode.
First, if you haven’t seen his performance, watch the commissioner try to explain away the issues causing hundreds of thousands of out of work New Jerseyans to go without the emergency money they are owed.
He starts by comparing old numbers after Sandy. What was the point in this? Only to say don’t pick on us because we have it way worse than the Christie administration did. Who cares? Get the job done.
Then he runs through a list of common reasons for your delay, and most of them point the finger right back at YOU. YOU must have made mistakes. It certainly couldn’t be an ignored, antiquated computer system that they knew was bad for decades already. Surely it couldn’t be that they were moving far too slowly to get more people in there to answer the phones. No, the message to many was YOU don’t know what you’re doing.
Then there was this pathetic, schmaltzy story he told about a worker who said when she goes to bed at night after working extra hours all she can thinking about is waking up early to get right back to work processing claims and how she cried together with a claimant on the phone once their claim was finally successfully processed. Yeah that’s great. Meanwhile a bunch of listeners and I sent money to help a starving woman named Phyllis that called in to our show who can’t get help from your office.
All this showmanship with lack of accountability provided was the message that the public better not pick on the poor beleaguered labor department.
Keep all that in mind then read this, an article on NJ.com about how they knew this was likely to happen with one big emergency for at least two decades and virtually nothing was done to fix the problems. This article is a must read if you’ve been battered about by the unemployment claims process to no resolution.
Everything in this article is what Robert Asaro-Angelo should have confessed to in that press conference but didn’t have the political spine. Instead he played the victim card on behalf of the Labor Department.
We’ve repeatedly invited the commissioner back on our show to discuss these on-going issues and after a week he still hasn’t firmly scheduled. It would be nice to hear what he has to say.