By Chris Frost
Oxnard-- It looks like the EDD (Employment Development Department) in California has stolen a page from China's playbook and will not answer any questions about what is going on within the department.
The Tri County Sentry reached out to the media relations department at EDD and asked the following questions, based on the experiences encountered by employees seeking relief:
1. Alternate Base Period (ABP) program requires the Employment Development Department (EDD) to use more recently earned wages to calculate monetary eligibility for new Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims for unemployed individuals that do not qualify for a UI claim using the Standard Base Period. A) Is the current base standard the quarter ending Dec.31, 2019? B) If so, why does it not include the quarter from Jan. 1-March 31? C) If a company only employed an employee during the last quarter, Jan. 1-March 31, would EDD not use the alternative base period instead of denying the claim?
2. Many who filed for unemployment and have been denied, have filed appeals. What is the turnaround time for a determination? If an applicant requests a hearing before an administrative law judge, what is that timeframe?
3. Many who have been denied benefits or have not had their claims processed have no source of income. Some have been out of work since early April. Families are desperate for money for necessary living expenses. What can EDD do, if anything, to expedite these claims? Additionally, I have seen a determination letter that says you've been awarded no money, with no explanation as to why. The whole idea behind an appeal is pointing out to the reviewing body why the original decision was in error. If you don't know the facts on which the decision was based, it's virtually impossible to provide evidence as to why the decision was incorrect.
4. On Tuesday, April 28, the EDD indicated that those not eligible for traditional unemployment might qualify for PUA and opened the application process. The website indicated that claims would be processed within 24-48 hours. To date, we've spoken to numerous people who applied on the 28th, yet still have not received a response. What is the actual time frame?
5. During an April 13, Town Hall, Senator Henry Stern encouraged his constituents to use the "Ask EDD" feature on the website. He assured that inquiries would be responded to quickly. The Tri County Sentry submitted a question the same day (not as media but as an employer who has laid off staff and had a legitimate inquiry). To date, nearly two weeks later, there's been no response. Is EDD responding to questions received through the link? If so, what is the timeframe for responses? If not, why not remove it?
6. During the same Town Hall, Senator Stern indicated that EDD's working hours had been increased to a full 8 hours a day. Yet, callers are instructed that the hours of operation are only until noon. Have regular operating hours resumed, and if not, when is that expected?
Since the EDD refused to answer those questions, let me guess at their answers.
Oh damn, did you look at these questions? We can't answer these. Let's just ignore them, and maybe it will go away. We only answer questions that make us look good.
Well, they don't seem to understand how the Tri County Sentry works. Perhaps an attorney will help with this little problem.
So, I reached out to Assembly Member Monique Limon, and a staff member sent me a piece of the budget attached to the EDD department.
According to the State of California 2019-2020 budget, the state appropriated approximately $6,269,938 for unemployment insurance this year. Oops, the world dropped a plague on us, and we need a lot more money.
Meanwhile, at the statehouse, the legislative body has taken no action to remedy this problem. Still, Jorge Salinas from Limons office said, "he heard they have applied to get a loan from the federal government."
So, let's ask a question here. When do you need more money? Do you borrow when you're flush with cash, or do you borrow when you're out of money?
If you're at the EDD and thinking this is pure bunk, please feel free to contact me at the email address at the top of this article or call me at my office phone, it was in the email you deleted, and set me straight. If you call, please feel free to be ready to answer the question: "Give me one real reason why Governor Gavin Newsome shouldn't get rid of the whole bunch of you and hire a group of people who are transparent? Silence is confirmation. Keep that in mind, and I will keep at this until you are the most hated agency in California.
Go ahead and call. I'm waiting.