L. Watson: Unemployment process is disheartening

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I write to put a spotlight on the Department of Labor and the Unemployment Insurance Commission and Division of Administrative hearings.

I propose that all new hires of said departments/divisions have a prerequisite: they have had to previously be a recipient of Maine unemployment benefits.

The Department of Labor and its various divisions obviously aren’t up to the challenge of nearly 8 percent unemployment here. On any given day you can call the unemployment office and wait on hold for at least 30 minutes. The last time I did get through, it took 42 minutes. Most days you get an automated message asking you to call back later in the week or later in the day, even if you call on a Thursday or Friday at 1:15 p.m.

I understand that they want you to do most of your business online or by fax. And thankfully, due in large part to helpful folks at Maine Career Centers, a lot of people do.

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I speak from experience. I have been on the unemployment rolls three times in 2012.

I find it disheartening that department hearings, serving as judge and jury, make appealers feel like second- or third-class citizens. And then they usually dismiss the case anyway.

I assume it is because they throw out most of the cases in the hopes that the appealer won’t continue to jump through hoops for their benefits.

As an educated woman, I find that thinking and the way in which they do their business disrespectful and degrading to say the least.

Laura Watson, Lewiston

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