Thursday, November 01, 2012

Florida and Unemployment, from the AFL-CIO

Florida Leads Race to the Bottom on Unemployment Compensation

Oh, this is so typical of the righteous right elite. Drive people off the unemployment rolls, and then claim success. Mitt looked good because so many people left the state.*  Rick looks good because the system is so complex, people either give up or are denied for spurious reasons.
The online application also now requires a 45-question skills review, asking questions about applied mathematics, reading for information and locating information. The skills test is not available for review as the governor's administration claims it is "proprietary." This means, there is no way to independently verify that the test is a valid measure of worker skills. Scott's office claims that the review is a "common sense" reform designed to create a more skilled workforce, but in reality, the review serves to discourage Floridians from completing the application. The denial rate for applications jumped more than 66% in the first three months of 2012. 
And they brag about it on the front page of the Florida jobs site:
The number of individuals claiming RA benefits has declined from 556,941 when Governor Rick Scott took office (week ending 1/8/2011), down to 312,749 (week ending 09/08/2012).
More from AFL-CIO:
 Scott renamed the program the "Reemployment Assistance Program" and cut the tax that funds the program by $800,000.  The funding cuts have led to a logjam in the system as the call volume for the staff whose job it is to help applicants through the process is very high. There are numerous reports of people calling for assistance and never getting any help as calls go unanswered for days. Reporters who attempted to call into the system for help said that automated messages told them that there were hundreds of calls ahead of them in the queue and that the system hung up on them without them ever having talked to a human being.

Make it hard, and then don't help people to understand the process. At least Ohio still has phone-in sign up for unemployment. At least for now. If Kasich sees how 'successful' Scott has been, who knows what changes he will propose for Ohio's system. After all, Kasich's the guy who wants to sell the Ohio Turnpike to private businesses. Even though it is, and has been, running just fine for many years, with well maintained roads and rest stops.

According to the Florida Reemployment Assistance Program [FRAP] website, a person can be denied benefits if they were fired for misconduct.

You may be eligible for benefits even if you were fired, provided you were not discharged for misconduct.  Misconduct is now defined as demonstrating conscious disregard of an employer's interests and found to be a deliberate violation of the reasonable standards or behavior which the employer expects of an employee, and may include activities that did not occur at the workplace or during working hours.  Examples of misconduct which can result in a denial of benefits include:
Chronic absenteeism or tardiness;
Willful and deliberate violation of a standard or regulation which would jeopardize the employer's Florida license or certification;
Violation of an employer's rules under certain circumstances.

Did you notice this bit: "and may include activities that did not occur at the workplace or during working hours". I wonder just how often that bit is used to deny benefits? And what grounds employers have cited? It really seems to be an open-ended invitation to the employer to deny benefits.

*Unemployment in Massachusetts rose during Romney’s first year from a rate of 5.6 percent in January 2003, when he took office, to a peak of 6.0 percent in mid 2003.[68] It then steadily declined over the remainder of his term, ending at 4.6 percent in January 2007,[68] his last month as governor, for a net improvement in unemployment of 1.0 percent.[61] Much of the improvement in unemployment during Romney’s first three years in office reflected the loss of working-age adults from the labor force,[64][69] many of them having left Massachusetts for other states during the period.[70][64] Massachusetts experienced one of the highest levels of net out-migration of any state during Romney's term.[64]

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