Phyllis is why I’m so angry about unemployment claims (Opinion)
I don’t know much about Phyllis. But here’s what I do know. The state is failing her.
I know that hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans who were thrown out of their jobs by the pandemic are not receiving unemployment benefits when they should be. The ancient computer system which should have been tended to years ago, the lack of enough workers at the Labor Department to answer phones calls and the sheer volume of the suddenly unemployed are all reasons. Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo will often cite the unprecedented numbers, but it’s not true that no one could have seen this coming or expected this. If Democrats are going to blame Trump for not having listened to experts’ warnings that a pandemic could happen they have to accept that they weren’t prepared either.
I know Phyllis is 56 years old and was thrown out of her job because of the shutdown. I know she has a little over $3 in rolled up change and just $10 in the bank. From her phone call to the show yesterday I know she hasn’t been able to pay the rent on her apartment in two months. She lives like so many of us live, check to check. She’s not lazy. She had been working 70+ hours a week.
She applied for unemployment and couldn’t get any. She can’t get through on the phones to speak to someone. She has no parents. They’ve both passed on. She never had siblings. She’s literally alone in the world. She needs medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol and doesn’t have the money now. She’s fasting to make what little food she has left last. In other words, she’s starving.
I got her number and called her after the show to see how we could help her. I learned that she’s tough. I learned that she’s gracious. I learned that she’s deserving of help her government isn’t giving her.
I also know we have some great people in this state. We had many calls come in to the station offering to help her. We passed all their contact info along to Phyllis and perhaps she’ll be okay for a little while.
So when I went on an angry rant Thursday about how the Labor Department seems to be deflecting blame and responsibility for the trouble these hundreds of thousands of people are having getting through to claim unemployment benefits, this is the reason. Her name is Phyllis. And she deserves better.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.