- Posted June 14, 2012 by
Cranston, Rhode Island
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Economy: Are you better off?
State With Second Highest Unemployment Rate To Lay Off Unemployment Insurance Staff
The majority of these layoffs, up to seventy percent, are to come from Unemployment Insurance Representatives. These agents are on the front line, handling incoming calls and processing claims. They are responsible for ensuring timely payments of benefits for the unemployed.
Rhode Island State Employees are entitled to receive the same levels of Unemployment Insurance benefits that they have been paying to claimants. However, The state of Rhode Island is considered a direct-reimbursable employer. That means they are responsible to pay dollar for dollar the benefits collected by their own employees when laid off. Therefore, Rhode Usland taxpayers are on the hook for up to one million dollars in benefits for State employees to provide no services to a state that desperately needs an adequate workforce to aid the unemployed in such a stagnant economy.
Members of Local 401, a chapter of the Rhode Island Service Employees International United that represents the labor sector of the workforce in jeopardy, are moving to gain support formaintaining the current levels of staffing. However, it seems unlikely that the budget will allow for jobs to be saved.
A reduction in workforce of this magnitude could eliminate subdivisions of Unemployment Insurance specialists responsible for filing claims for recently discharged veterans and anyone combining wages from multiple states - a high percentage of claimants in a state so small and bordering states in a compact geographical area.
Over the past decade, Rhode Island has reduced it's public sector workforce by over two-thousand employees, making it the number one state in terms of State Employee layoffs. It is definitely a trend in short-sightedness and a twist of irony to increase unemployment levels at direct state expense and costing not only money, but customer service to those at their most down and vulnerable.