I’m glad all those State of Hawaii employees processing unemployment claims at the Convention Center are getting paid so they can take care of their bills.

I’m not.

It makes me wonder how many others are not getting their CARES Act or State UI checks and what’s going on. No use calling in — the phones say they are tied up. No use filling out the contact form at the website. It says you’ll be dealt with in the order in which you hit “submit.” In my case, that’s been never. How about you?

I’m one of those so-called “independent contractors” rather than a full-time employee. I was laid off by MidWeek on April 1st. I applied first for standard UI and then the new benefit under the CARES Act which covers all people like me.

So that means special unemployment assistance now going back 10 weeks. I’ve gotten one week’s payment so far. That’s it. The rest is listed as “processing.”

What are they processing? I fill out the question form to ask, but I never get an answer. How about you?

I have Social Security and my wife works part-time so we won’t starve. But I now understand why people wait many hours in a long line of cars, hoping to get a carton of food from the Hawaii Foodbank. Their unemployment checks are probably, like mine, “processing.”

Early on, I figured Gov. David Age would pick up whispers about people not getting any money and tell his people to get their butts in gear, even with their ancient computer systems. But no, he just said they’re working on it. No butt kicking.

Then we on the wait list got one of those canned messages of concern:

“I am tremendously grateful for our workers as well as the volunteers working at the Hawaii State Library and Hawaii Convention Center,” said Scott Murakami, DLIR Director. “We know that there are still many in our community who are suffering and with the help of our sister departments, the Legislature, private sector partners and non-profits, we are resolute in providing a greater level of relief as soon as possible.”

That’s supposed to tamp down our suspicion that somebody’s screwed up on this one, like with the transit train budget and timeline:

Initially DLIR faced several challenges when dealing with the influx of applications that came as a result of Covid-related business closures throughout the state. Since then, several fixes have allowed the office — and its new call centers, additional staff and volunteers — to better manage the high volume application process.

In other words, no on time or on budget but it’s not our fault. It’s ours for overloading the system.

It’s not a gubernatorial election year, so we can’t threaten the guy with two years left in his term.

Share your experiences with us.

Maybe at least Ige is not hard of hearing.

Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Vietnam War, Iraq #1 in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. Married to Denby Fawcett, one daughter. Brett Jones.

2 replies on “Hello! Anybody There At The D-L-I-R?”

  1. I have received nothing but a busy signal. I have called the HOTLINE. I have called 270 times with the same crap.. I have been disqualified, but then I get an email from an outside worker. I provided quarterly reports, answered 40 questions to their satisfaction. Still I get disqualified. When I check my status why I am disqualified it says details not available. Bob we were told to stay home so when are they going to pony up the funds that are supposed to go to us?

  2. I wonder if your problem is that you first applied for unemployment benefits. These are reserved for employees. Their employer is required to make contributions for them into the state unemployment fund. You were not entitled to such benefits as you are clearly an independent contractor. You are self employed. You receive a 1099 at the end of the year. An employee would receive a W-2. Maybe your claim for unemployment benefits has not been resolved and is still pending. Thus it is holding up your checks. If you withdraw your claim your checks might be processed.

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