California Unemployment: Lawmakers call for accountability for EDD's 'unacceptable' performance

Friday, July 10, 2020
'Unacceptable': CA lawmakers call for EDD accountability
As a result of lawmakers' calls for action, EDD has said it would give priority to those who have been waiting for benefits the longest.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- There are little Democrats and Republicans agree on, but there is this: the California EDD is not doing its job properly.

There is so much frustration, so many inadequate outcomes, it is hard to know exactly when the EDD crossed the line. Perhaps it was on June 22 when the EDD instituted a policy where lawmakers were told to stop trying to help their constituents so much.

In an email, the EDD lays down the law, telling state senators and assemblymembers that they "may request one constituent referral per week to be expedited..."

"The fact that our legislative offices are limited to sharing only one case or a handful of cases is unacceptable." said Assemblymember David Chiu.

Chiu and Senator Scott Wiener, both of San Francisco, held a streaming video news conference to say enough is enough.

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Scott Weiner said, "After four months of this, at some point the agency has to get it right."

Around two hours after the news conference, the EDD backed off its 'one-a-week' edict.

Laura Davis has been unemployed for weeks and has never been able to connect with a live person at EDD.

"The closest I got to getting through was I got a recorded message that said we are experiencing an extremely high amount of calls right now, goodbye," she said.

A group of Republican lawmakers may know why she's had such trouble.

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In a letter, the group accused the EDD of "misleading the public by announcing that they had opened phone hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m." when specific questions were only answered in the morning.

The letter, which asks for an audit, also accuses the department of "misleading legislative offices by claiming they are currently responding to claim inquiries sent on a specific date" when the department isn't doing that at all.

Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley represents District 6, northeast of Sacramento.

"Everyone is hearing from hundreds of constituents who are experiencing these same problems," he said. "The question is, is there going to be the political will, that is bipartisan, for actually trying to fix the problem and bring accountability."

Senator Jerry Hill of San Mateo chairs the committee which oversees the EDD.

"From a government standpoint, EDD has failed us," he says.

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This week the senator met with EDD staff, the governor's office and others, and there is good news.

Those like Laura Davis, who have been waiting the longest for checks will be given priority by the EDD.

"Now they've (EDD) taken a different tack where they are going to look at the applications from March and April that they haven't been able to process fully, which are about one hundred thousand or more, and deal with those first," Senator Hill says.

ABC7 News requested interviews with the secretary for the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency and the director of the EDD.

Both requests were denied.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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