I have had multiple conversations today with members of the Governor’s Administration about the untenable situation happening with regard to callers to the Department of Labor who are trying to access unemployment benefits. It is still extremely difficult, and too often impossible, to get through. This despite adding a significant number of people to answer phones, private sector companies lending call centers, rapidly deploying front end software improvements and a new alphabetized protocol for claimants to call on certain days depending on what letter their last name begins with.
There is a longer story to share about the DOL main frame system that was built in the 1980’s and the federally driven project that was to have replaced it this fall. the short version is the project involved two other states, expanding one of those states more modern system to fit the other two states modernization needs and 100% federal funding. Serving on two committees that deal with state IT infrastructure, I was aware that this project had encountered challenges and that the administration was working on alternatives to get the system modernized. Unfortunately that has not happened in time for the current crisis and the project will almost certainly not be completed by this fall.
HOWEVER– the thinking has been that if Vermonters can try to stick with the temporary alphabetical call in schedule, the significantly increased staff should be able to address any issues associated with 70,000 Vermonters trying to access the old system. Yesterday was the first day of the new alphabetized system and over 750,000 calls were made to the call center. 11,000 were answered. There are only 630,000 Vermonters. Clearly this justifiably frustrating situation has created a situation where folks do not feel like they can wait until there scheduled day. I get it, my family has one person who has sailed through the system easily, and another who has spent so. much. time. calling in.
This evening I was assured that the governor has asked for DOL to do even more, and was told that he would be speaking to this issue during tomorrows press conference. Thank you for all of the patience you are demonstrating through this very stressful situation.
If you are in immediate danger of not being able to feed or shelter yourself or your family, please call me (if you live in my district Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro or Whitingham) or your own Representative if you do not live in my district. My phone number is 802-384-0233.
I am happy to talk more about this or other topics tomorrow morning at 7 on my Coffee with Laura call:
Coffee with Laura call at 7 am Monday, Wednesday and Friday. You can join that call here:
Meeting ID: 734 376 857 Password: 003089 or by calling mobile
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Bookmark for updates:
Vermont Department of Health 2019 Novel Coronavirus Current Status in Vermont Webpage for updates.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control Coronavirus Disease page
World Health Organization Coronavirus Disease 2019
Department of Labor Virtual Town Halls
Montpelier – The Vermont Department of Labor has announced it will continue its Virtual Town Hall events for the week of April 13, 2020. The Department announced the events in response to the impact of COVID-19.
Dates and employer-focused conversation topics for the week::THURSDAY, APRIL 16
- Unemployment Insurance – Claimant 101
- Employee Safety and Workers’ Compensation Amid COVID-19
- Time: 2:00pm-3:00pm
- Overview: Discussion surrounding workers’ compensation issues facing employers including coverage of workers, filing claims and reporting of injuries, as well as updates on worker safety during COVID-19
- Speakers: Stephen Monahan (Director, Workers’ Compensation Division), Dan Whipple (Manager, Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and Kevin Gaffney (Deputy Commissioner, Department of Financial Regulation)
- Online Link: https://bit.ly/VTLaborTownHall_April16
Essential Workers Safety Tips from the Vermont Department of Health
SVEP: Short Term Impacts From COVID19 For Towns
This the second webinar in a four part series in April hosted by the Southern Vermont Economy Project in response to COVID19.
Join us to hear from the southern Vermont Regional Planning Commissions and Vermont League of Cities and Towns on short term impacts on towns from COVID19.
- Chris Campany and Alyssa Sabetto, Windham Regional Commission
- Allison Strohl and Jim Sullivan, Bennington County Regional Commission
- Abigail Friedman, Vermont League of Cities and Towns
- RPCs role in regional emergency preparedness and response
- How RPCs support their towns and their Emergency Management Directors
- How RPCs are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Advising on municipal continuity of operations planning
- Planning for after the pandemic
- Open meeting law impacts from COVID19
- Town office closures from COVID19
- Town finance impacts from COVID19
- Local emergency plans
All webinars are recorded and will be posted at www.brattleborodevelopment.com/svep
Meeting Room Access:
https://zoom.us/j/274484526 Meeting ID: 274 484 526
If you need to call in: 888 475 4499 US Toll-free
GOVERNOR PHIL SCOTT, UVM PRESIDENT SURESH GARIMELLA AND BURTON SNOWBOARDS OWNER DONNA CARPENTER TO DETAIL PARTNERSHIPS SUPPORTING VERMONT’S RESPONSE TO COVID-19
Administration officials will also be available to answer questions on COVID-19
What: Media Availability
In addition to a COVID-19 situational update from Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, Governor Phil Scott will highlight non-governmental organizations that have supported Vermont’s response to COVID-19. Some of these partners, including UVM President Suresh Garimella and Burton Snowboards Owner Donna Carpenter, will also speak to their efforts.
Following remarks, administration officials will be available to answer questions.
GENERAL PUBLIC VIEWING:Most Vermont TV and radio stations live broadcast the briefings. The Governor’s media briefing will be available to stream through ORCA Media’s YouTube channel, linked here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-xsDpLCa0iRMj4dQrqum7uoXaQmqeGvT
Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, or if you need assistance navigating government services at (802) 384-0233 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Laura Sibilia
Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham