Page 5

July 2009

The PlainDealer — 5

Another Union Member Shares Frustrating Unemployment Experience

Farmers Union, Others, Present at KPC Meeting

[The following is a letter to the editor from a reader of The PlainDealer in response to an article and Letter to the Editor in previous issues. I contacted the Kansas Department of Labor with some of these concerns and have included a response letter on the first page of this issue. I am interested to hear about other readers’ experiences, good and bad. Please send your stories to]

The Kansas Progressive Caucus met Saturday, June 6, at the Emporia public library. The meeting opened with kind remarks and a moment of silence in respect for Dr. George Tiller, who was killed May 31 and whose funeral was also on June 6 in Wichita. The morning agenda included discussion of the 105-county strategy, the upcoming legislative agenda, organizing fund raisers, parade participation, the recent energy bill, and the “prograssive” medical marijuana movement. After lunch there were presentations from speakers Don Teske, Charles Schollenberger, and Sen. Chris Steineger. Don Teske, president of the Kansas Farmers Union, presented a slide program on the history of the Kansas Farmers Union. In addition to old photos and the accompanying stories, he showed slides of the Presidential inauguration in January. The National Farmers Union has office space very close to capitol hill, and Don got good tickets through them. He was close enough to actually see Obama, which is better than can be said for most of the people in attendence. Don mentioned that the Farmers Union has historically supported Democrats and progressive causes, while Farm Bureau has historically supported Republicans and conservative causes. A possible candidate for U.S. Senate, Charles Schollenberger gave a mostly biographical speech to inroduce himself, including where he comes from and a bit about his progressive values. He believes that a strong populist progressive message can resonate with Kansas moderate Republicans and Democrats alike. His background is in journalism. State Senator Chris Steineger is considering running for Governor. Chris explained why he believes that he has the right combination of skills and positions to appeal to the majority of Kansans. He is exploring a main campaign theme with a combination of environmental responsibility and fiscal responsibility — ideas, he says, that are not mutually exclusive, but fit together rather well.

By Corey Rink, June 4, 2009 After reading Ken Baker’s letter in my recent copy of The Plain Dealer, I felt it was necessary to share my experiences as well. I too was laid off on April 8 from HBC. I knew that I would have an issue with claiming benefits since I have been going back to school part time to finish my degree in Electrical Engineering and one of the State’s questions asks if you are entering or attending school. I was on their website immediately obtaining the correct form that I would need to fill out and send in. During an information session for laid off workers, which took place at HBC, I asked a State representative from the Department of Labor exactly what process I needed to follow. She mentioned the form, but said I should wait to fax it until I had received paperwork from the State. This was to ensure that I was in their system first. Once I received my paperwork, I then faxed my completed form. Then I just sat back and waited patiently, knowing it could take some time with all the people out of work. I was checking my claim status online daily. After about a week and a half or two, my status showed that I was disqualified and a determination notice was sent. It was about another four or five days after that, when it arrived. It said that although I had filled out the required form, the information was insufficient. It also said that an attempt was made to contact the claimant for additional information but no response had been received. That was odd, because I did not recall anyone calling me, so I checked the caller id and determined that they possibly called from a “private number”. However, no one left any message on my machine! Next began my barrage of phone calls, or rather my attempts to get through. The first problem with their phone system is that you spend the first five minutes going through menus and entering

From Jim Herrmann, Kansas Progressive Caucus

information with your telephone to see if I could get some answers. keypad just to find out that if too Once I made contact with somemany people are on hold, you one, I asked for by name the must call back later. How annoywoman that left me the message. I ing! I quickly developed the was told that they were not memorization of my entire seallowed to let me request to speak quence of numbers to enter and with someone in particular. They when in the menus I could do so put me on hold and went to speak without waiting to hear the with the woman in question. They instructions. It did not help that came back and said they spoke much since inevitably I was with her, and she said the fax was prompted to “try my call again received and it was in the departlater.” It did not matter that they ment that took care of such forms had extended hours; I tried early in and decisions. So I waited some the morning, midday, and late at more… about another week, before night. On average, it took about an calling again. This time, no one hour and a half or two of constant seemed to know what was dialing, hanging up, and dialing happening or where my stuff was again before I made it into the at, so they requested I resend my queue. It was such a feeling of information. So, back to the fax accomplishment just to be on hold machine I went along with another finally, which lasted about 30 letter I wrote to explain where in minutes. the process everything was. The first person I spoke with did Another week went by and there not seem to know what was going was no change in my status on. I explained my situation in online, but by this time, I had been detail, but it did not seem to help, answering ‘No’ to their question so he asked if I could hold, which I about school, since the semester did. After he came back, and by had ended. Now I was also the end of the conversation, his interested why my change in answer was just repeating the status was not being reflected on words that were written on my my account. The person I spoke determination notice. with on this day did not have any answers for me either. She said the I asked if there was anyone else Appeals Department had my that might be able to assist with information and they were waiting the situation, and he said all they to schedule my hearing. (Once I can do is put in a request for a initially received the disqualificasupervisor callback. He said that someone would call back within 24 tion notice, I wrote a letter of appeal so that I would cover my hours. That was on Friday butt just in case the bureaucracy if I could hold while she spoke morning, so I did not expect to with her supervisor and I told her hear anything until Monday, but it of the government screwed things up). “absolutely.” When she came was Tuesday when I had a back, she said that I had been message on the machine. It was She gave me the number to the more than cooperative in providindeed from a private number, but appeals department, whom I ing them with all of the information this time they left a message. A immediately called. They informed requested and she thought she lady said what they needed was me that my first determination was could get everything squared very simple and should be easy. in line to be scheduled. I stopped away. I was elated! On my form, there was an area for her and asked ‘“First… how many a graduation date. I had put down determinations do I have.” She She put me on hold one more time, a month and year, but they needed said two, but she did not have any and when she returned she said a month, DAY, and year. She left a information on them. So, back to that everything was taken care of new fax number and her name. I the phone queue lottery I and I should receive my debit card immediately amended my form and go…This time, the lady I spoke and all that good stuff. That was wrote a letter of explanation and with was the most helpful of last Friday and today is Thursday. faxed everything to Topeka. Again, anyone to date. I asked her if they As I write this, I am still waiting to I waited… kept notes on my account so I receive my benefits in the mail would not have to explain everyTwo weeks later, I decided to try from the state. It has been eight thing all over. They did. She asked weeks and counting since the my luck at the phone queue again Read The PlainDealer online through a link at!

layoff and no benefits. And now school has started for the summer, but my classes are during the evening and thus will not ‘interfere’ with me being available for work. I was told just to call back in and they would code my account so it would not affect my benefits. I asked if there was someone or an extension I could call to do that. Again, I was told no, but they are no longer on extended hours of operation, so all representatives are present and available to take calls. Hmmmph. So it looks like I will have to press my luck with dialing into their phone system yet again. Joy.

Plain Dealer, 07/2009  

Wichita Area Union Newsletter