INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - We continue our focus on Indiana Unemployed by taking our camerainside a WorkOne office to talk to the commissioner of theDepartment of Workforce Development.
You've contacted us through email and Facebook with problemsyou've had getting your unemployment benefits. Thursday, we talkedto the commissioner about your concerns and what we've learned inour investigations. The critical question: Is the department well-staffed,well-trained, and prepared to handle the influx of 80,000unemployed Hoosiers with newly extended benefits?
Robin Woods visits the WorkOne office in Kokomo frequently. Forweeks, she has questioned employees about why she hasn't beengetting her unemployment benefits. She says each time she was told,"'We don't know.'"
Recently, she asked the same questions, but on that occasion, weasked her to wear a 24-Hour news 8 microphone.
Woods asked the WorkOne employee, "Is there a reason why thevouchers weren't generated that Sunday? They give you a reason atall?"
"We don't know what it is," the WorkOne employee mumbled as wetaped the conversation.
On Thursday, the Commissioner of the Department of WorkforceDevelopment invited us inside a WorkOne office, a place our camerasare usually not allowed. He insists the offices are well-staffed.Asked if he believes retraining is necessary, he replied, "Well,you can always do better. But I'm proud of the work that our folksare doing considering the stress of this situation."
He says the laws governing unemployment compensation arecomplicated. That was evident when we taped a phone conversationbetween an unemployed Hoosier Tiffany Thompson and a representativefrom the DWD call center..
"Does that mean I'll get benefits?" Thompson asked. I'm justtrying - "
"Yeah you'll be on the EB claim," the representativeinterrupted.
"That's the thing that's confusing is the tiers," Thompsonreplied. I'm not understanding how they go.
"You've used your four tiers on the EUC," said therepresentative. "You'll be the EB claim."
The representative didn't explain the acronyms, nor did sheexplain that workers new to the final tier of benefits - EB orExtended Benefits - will not receive a voucher on line. Instead theDWD will send them a letter. They'll then be required to apply forEB benefits at a WorkOne office.
Thompson and other viewers complain that representatives at theDWD call center fail to explain the intricacies of filing forunemployment.
Asked if the DWD provides its call center employees withtraining on interpreting the complicated language of unemploymentlaw, Commissioner Everson replied, "There is training but the thingis, this is a little bit like the tax code. There are things thatare very complicated, and that always can be difficult to explainto someone, particularly someone who is hoping for just a yes or noanswer."
He points to what he believes are his department's successes -like quickly programming the computers to allow them to beginpaying newly extended benefits days before originally expected.That computer programming will be put to the test in the daysahead.
The commissioner says Hoosiers are already getting thosenewly-extended benefits. The Department paid out about $6 millionin benefits today. If you have questions, the 27 WorkOne fullservice offices across the state will be open extended hours -Saturday 9:00 a.m. until one p.m., and Monday through Friday 8 a.m.until 8 p.m.
"Now is the time to take action." That's what city leaders say in regards to a new Criminal Justice Complex in Marion County.
Federal investigators are looking into multiple cases where counterfeiters have floated fake $100 bills. According to police reports, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department arrested three people for printing off the fake bills.
Update: According to the Lafayette Police Department, Lafayette area schools have been checked and the threat has been deemed not credible and lockdown lifted.