SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Georgians continue to wait for unemployment benefits. Many going months, they said, without hearing from the Department of Labor.
A group of about 10 legislators are using this week to hold press conferences at several Department of Labor offices in northern Georgia to address unreceived unemployment benefits. One state representative said now is not the time for the DOL to be failing Georgians, and there needs to be change.
“I try to have emergency savings for stuff like this, but it’s completely depleted now. I’m not really sure what else to do here,” Savannah resident Daniel Langenburg said.
Langenburg is giving up. He was laid off in the beginning of the year, filing for unemployment in May and was approved in June but has yet to receive any of his unemployment benefits, or hear from the Savannah DOL office.
“Okay, well let me Google the one in Brunswick. Let me Google the one in Atlanta. Let me Google...there are a couple of other unemployment offices throughout the state and leave some voicemails, and I did that. I looked up the commissioner’s number and left a voicemail,” Langenburg said.
It’s Georgians like Langenburg who state legislators are now speaking up for.
“We are working for them, and we’re trying to help them to resolve this unemployment issue,” Rep. Sandra Scott (D- GA) said.
Rep. Scott said she wants the Department of Labor to resolve claims over 30 days.
According to Langenburg, the DOL owes him more than $7,000 in backpay.
Scott said the pandemic is a critical time for many Georgians.
“They’re losing their homes,” she said. “Their cars are being repossessed.”
Scott and other legislators have talked to Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, offering solutions such as: hiring more staff, 24-hour shifts, and bringing in the National Guard to help return phone calls or take down information.
“When we made that suggestion to him, he was just like ‘Oh, they wouldn’t be able to do it,’ but yes they can do it,” Scott said.
Lawmakers also suggested asking Georgia Governor Brian Kemp for more funding.
“Don’t be ashamed to ask for help when you have people suffering,” said Scott.
The group of legislators plan to continue holding rallies and press conferences throughout Georgia, until the DOL makes changes.
“It’s frustrating to see that Georgia is failing its people,” said Langenburg.
WTOC did reach out to Commissioner Butler about the recent efforts from legislators. He said he is disappointed in certain lawmakers. According to Butler, the office has worked with the legislature on a process to forward issues with claims to his office, and they’ve been able to get fixed, including Rep. Scott’s claims she’s submitted.
Butler stated, “It saddens me that politics has gotten to the point it has here in Georgia where elected officials would misrepresent critical assistance for political gain.”
Butler went on to say that majority of the legislature has been helping the office identify Georgians with unemployment claim issues.