Letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis (FL)

May 14, 2020

 

Governor Ron DeSantis

Florida State Capital

400 S Monroe St

Tallahassee, FL 32399

 

Dear Governor DeSantis:

On behalf of hundreds of thousands of hard-working Floridians, we, the undersigned community organizations, urge you to expand eligibility and improve benefit recipiency for state reemployment assistance. In this time of crisis, millions of workers across the country are experiencing layoffs, with no clear end in sight.

The unprecedented nature of this threat calls on the state to do everything in its power to stave off the severity of an economic downturn and support working people. There are important steps that need to happen to ensure workers are able to access unemployment benefits during this economic crisis. These include:

  • Waiving work-search, bi-weekly reporting, availability, and work registration requirements for the remainder of 2020.

  • Waiving the waiting period/waiting week requirements for the remainder of 2020.

  • Reducing monetary eligibility requirements.

  • Allowing benefits to apply retroactively to the date of job loss. Do not base them on when an application is filed.

  • Expanding recipiency by increasing the weekly benefit cap, increasing the part-time earnings cap, implementing the Alternative Base period for determining eligibility, and increasing the maximum number of weeks for eligibility to 26. 

  • Expanding the Short-Time Compensation program and waiving any impact to employers’ Reemployment Assistance experience rating.

  • Continuing to increase staff resources for facilitating online, telephone, and in-person applications submitted at CareerSource centers, and for processing claims until the backlog has been cleared and applications are being processed the same week they are filed.

  • Issuing guidance clarifying those workers who cannot work due to layoffs or have been asked to take unpaid leave because of the coronavirus should be eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

  • Issuing guidance clarifying that separations due to quarantine and /or unsafe working conditions related to the coronavirus do not disqualify a worker from receiving unemployment benefits.

  • Upon an employer appeal, shifting the burden of proof from the employee to the employer. Work with large employers who have experienced more than 5,000 layoffs across the state to auto enroll former employees to ensure efficient processing of claims.

 

Combined, these measures would ensure that workers receive the vital protections they need, and are not penalized for benefit limitations that do not account for the exceptional circumstances of this public health emergency. As COVID-19 continues to cause our schools, churches, and businesses to shut down, families must now struggle to keep themselves safe without a source of income. The last recession taught us that keeping hardworking Floridians out of financial ruin now will get our economy back up and running faster. Unemployment will help all of us bounce back quickly.

Florida’s Reemployment Assistance program is our safeguard from economic catastrophe. We urge you to act now.

Sincerely,

VAMOS4PR 

Central Florida Jobs with Justice 

Florida Student Power Network 

FLIC

QLatinx

Alianza for Progress

Poder Latinx

Iniciativa Accion Puertorriquena

Latino Justice

Suarez Law Group

Hispanic Federation

Holy Movement Church

League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

Our Rev305

Faith in Florida

Miami Climate Alliance

Catalyst Miami

Sierra Club Florida

Puerto Rico Connect 

Boricuas de Corazon

Diaspora en Resistencia

Iglesia Cristiana Gracia y Gloria

Puerto Rican Leadership Council

Washington Shores Presbyterian Church 

The Common Ground Project

Miami Freedom Project