Construction workers are entitled to unemployment when between jobs. It’s always been the case. They work, and if they can’t get on a new job right away, they are entitled to unemployment, provided they meet the basic requirements (worked enough hours in the last few weeks, tried to get more work, and so on). It is a little bandaid on the gaping wound that is being unemployed in NYC.
The thing is, though, the NYS unemployment system penalizes those who go and look for work…preferring to hand checks out to people who just claim their benefits and make minor effort to work.
When my husband had a job that ended, there was no work for a couple of weeks. So he had his ‘waiting week’ and then the second week he got a check. Then week three some work came up. He, of course, happily went to the job site, even though it was short term, just a week. You are not supposed to turn down work (there are exceptions), and of course his job pays more than the pittance that unemployment pays.
Well, after THAT jobs ends, you are entitled to claim again, and get a check if you go without work.
This is where they get upset. They will not send a check unless you talk to them or fill out a form, and even then they stall.
They question you like you are some sort of monster. "Why didn’t you claim the first week of December?"
"I accepted a job."
"Why did you claim again?"
"The job was finished, lack of work."
And they cannot wrap their head ’round the idea that construction workers, when finished with a job, are not paid to stand around the finished building and look pretty. They either move on, or go back to the union hall in the case of a union worker, and try to get something else. If they can’t get something else, they are entitled to unemployment INSURANCE.
So they request that you fill out a form that never came, and when you say that, they ask "who did you work for" and you tell them, even though they have the information on file (because, of course, that company paid into your unemployment for that time you worked). And then they say they will release the check.
And they will do that every day for a few days, and every day you check online and you find out they lied, and every day you have to call again to explain to someone that instead of sitting home and collecting a check, you actually took work, despite it being for only a week, because it is better to earn your own money than to dip into your unemployment insurance, and it’s the right thing to do and they ask if you refused work and if you did, that is a big no-no.
So meanwhile the bills pile up, the hairs get greyer.
And if they issue a check and it never shows up?
Wait 14 days to call. Sounds reasonable, right?
You know what happens when you call? They tell you they are sending a form out. Another form that will never make it.
It has taken over six months in some cases to get money he was legally entitled to. But not without putting up every roadblock out there, and even requesting hearings that would require taking off of work from. And since they cut their budget, you can no longer go anyplace and talk to someone or fill out a form and hand it in on the spot. It is all done by internet and telephone and there is no end of them brushing you off — as if the money was just for jujubees and diet pepsi, and not sending a working man the money he is entitled to, the money from a fund he put into for over 20 years, is no big deal.
It’s just food and shelter and utilities and the like, right? No big deal. And if you do the right thing? Well, you’re the fool for actually doing that. You should shut up and sit around and wait for a check. Less paperwork for them, that way, and they will happily cut it for you, week after week, until the funds run out.
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