SACRAMENTO (KPIX) – A huge backlog has left more than a million Californians waiting for months for an unemployment check. Now, California legislators are urging the state to pay unemployment benefits now and fix its broken system later.
California Assemblyman David Chiu who represents east San Francisco says he’s never seen such bipartisan support. He’s one of many lawmakers who signed a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom, Wednesday, demanding the Employment Development Department to pay up.
Cecilia Vallerga of San Rafael has been unemployed since the pandemic began.
“You get stuck in a loop that gives you a recording of the same two numbers to call,” she said.
Vallerga knows what it’s like to not get any answers from the EDD. She received a check on May 31 and hasn’t seen a dime since.
”I didn’t even try to call for the first month but you get desperate for a little bit and you think I better try because that’s the only option I have,” says Vallerga.
In the last two months, Vallerga, a former housekeeper, has had her car repossessed and has been staying on friends couches. Unfortunately in this pandemic her story is all too common.
“We hear everyday from constituents who are making literally dozens if not hundreds of phone calls to this department and they can’t get through,” says Assemblyman Chiu.
He says that’s why legislators united to send a message to the EDD. This after lawmakers claim they personally reached out the department demanding changes and got a lukewarm response.
“There’s a very strong sentiment that EDD needs to be reformed and reformed fast,” says Chiu.
Due to poor customer service and outdated technology, Chiu says more than a million Californians are stranded without benefits but he also feels it’s because of EDD’s unwillingness to change.
Chiu adds, “We’ve got lots of questions about technologies and vendors and customer service but first and foremost the culture is set by we think a small group of EDD bureaucrats that have been very resistant to change.
KPIX 5 reached out to EDD but as of Wednesday night, there has been no response to our request for a comment.