The Center for Workers’ Rights continues to advocate for reforms to improve California’s unemployment insurance benefit system. As a workers’ rights organization, we have seen first-hand the impact of EDD’s decisions in administering benefits for low-wage workers. We have spoken to thousands of workers during the pandemic and attempted to determine what procedural barriers at EDD were causing the failure to pay prompt benefits. Our clients reported fear of eviction, food insecurity, and inability to pay other necessities, while their applications for benefits sat with EDD for months without response.
EDD’s Strike Team report released on September 16, 2020 corroborated what we have said about EDD’s need to change. We believe the Strike Team’s findings were thorough and if implemented appropriately could result in faster processing of claims for unemployment insurance benefits. However, we remain concerned over EDD’s implementation of the Strike Team’s recommendations and its overall willingness to change.
CWR met with Assemblymember David Chiu’s office and submitted written remarks to Assembly Budget Subcommittee 4 in regards to the EDD strike committee.
After reviewing the findings of the strike committee CWR offered this insight to the Subcommittee;
It was also announced this month that EDD will be implementing a new ID verification platform. EDD’s haste in rolling out this new system further increased the gap for prompt payment of benefits for high wage earners and our low-income clients. Worker advocates were not consulted about the efficacy of the new identity verification process, nor provided the opportunity to weigh in on how it can be implemented to improve claimant experience. ID.me’s rollout is shrouded in mystery and, though we were initially hopeful about this new system, we are concerned as to how this process will work for low-income immigrant workers, and workers who have literacy, language, and technological barriers to accessing benefits.