“I’m a delivery person in the fleet sales division of a worldwide vehicle rental company. I deliver vehicles all over the state of Michigan.
“Because I was collecting [Pandemic Unemployment Assistance] benefits claimed from March 26 to May 9, we have been very blessed that we didn’t start out with hardship like so many others have. But I did not receive a payment for the next two months due to some kind of glitch or error. [The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency] just ignored me.
“While I was waiting, the main hardship was the extreme stress, frustration and even anger of spending nearly every spare moment of each day trying to reach someone at UIA or anyone who might be able to help fix this error.
“Taxpayers like me are paying for services they are not getting. Why continue to fund any organization that is not there to accurately help the citizens who fund it?
“There are so many others struggling with this, some in a much worse position. I’m angry for them as well. No one at UIA has answered a phone call, a chat or a website message from me – not even once in four months of trying.
“Though I collected PUA benefits before the glitch/error stopped my benefits, I wasn’t fully paid for those weeks, either. I haven’t been paid anything for one week in which I had to claim one vacation day because my company paid out all of everyone’s vacation that week. It’s listed as an ‘open non-monetary issue’ but I don’t know why, since I should be getting reduced benefits for that week. That week has sat unattended to since April, when it changed to ‘in progress’ status. My entire case and account seem to have been lost to all of the UIA staff.
“From May 16 through July 4 my case was tagged ‘ineligible’ because they say I am ‘not registered with Michigan Works.’ The only contact I’ve had with UIA is a fact finding letter, which I answered, but my answers were completely ignored. Two days later, I received a determination that stopped my benefits due to ‘not registering with Michigan Works.’ They ignored that that requirement had been waived. They ignored everything I wrote to them.
“I’ve written a total of eight messages via my [online] account. One was answering the fact finding letter. No one has responded at all to me. From the time I started dealing with the UIA in March, I have not had a single verbal or written interaction with a real person from UIA.
“I called the governor’s office twice. The first time, I was told my name went on a list and to call back if I didn’t get a call from UIA in 15 business days. I didn’t get a call, so I called again. That time, I was told to call back in 10 business days if I didn’t get a call and if nothing changed. So far, no call, no change.
“Thankfully, I just started back to work, but we’re working limited hours, and I have been called off work some days. I collected my first reduced paycheck on July 10. I’ve always been frugal, so we got by all right, but I didn’t know how long we could make that last.
“What I’d honestly like to see is UIA be privatized. The UIA workers, in particular, have had decades of failure. It seems there are not enough checks and balances in that agency. No one is held accountable. That agency is already so messed up, it’d be the perfect agency to test out how privatization could work for Michigan citizens. It’s a fact that private companies can hire, promote, fire easier than state agencies, which is incentive for people to do their job and do it well.”
Sharon Kay Miller