The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Michigan Rips off the Unemployed

Jul 31, 2017

An appeals court in Michigan tossed out a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of tens of thousands of unemployed workers who were wrongly accused of fraud. The July 18 ruling focused on a technicality. It said workers waited too long to file their lawsuit against the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency.

Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency has admitted that their automated computer system, named MiDAS, was wrong 93 percent of the time when—without human intervention—the computer found workers guilty of fraud and fined them. Those fines and penalties are bigger in Michigan than in any other state. This all added up to a HUGE pot of money and workers want their money back.

The appeals court’s ruling that the unemployed filed their lawsuit too late is effectively arguing that the unemployed are required to be psychic! Because the deadline that the court wants the unemployed to go by was before money was taken from them. That is, before harm had been done to them!

According to the House Fiscal Agency, in September of 2016, 154 million dollars was in the “Unemployment Contingency Fund.” That fund stores all the fraud penalties, garnishments and interest money collected from up to 50,000 innocent workers. In 2011, before this new MiDAS computer system, that fund had three million dollars in it.

Wanda Stokes, who oversees the Unemployment Agency, said in a carefully worded statement, “The court made the right decision, and the state is working to fix the problems and get a refund to anyone who was wrongly accused or sanctioned.” Notice she says “a refund”–not a FULL REFUND.

That’s because Michigan has only promised to return 16 million dollars to workers. That begs the question, WHAT is the state planning to do with the other 100 million dollars they also took from innocent formerly unemployed people?

A lawyer for the unemployed states, “The money in that fund does not belong to the state. We can trace every penny of that money to innocent claimants.”

What the MiDAS computer system put the unemployed through by wrongly accusing and fining them has been pure hell.

Yes, the lawyers for the unemployed are going to the Michigan Supreme Court to appeal, but that takes a long time. This case needs to be tried in front of the working population right now. A LOT OF NOISE can be made and a lot of ACTION can be taken. Up to 50,000 innocent workers were attacked by this computer system. That is A LOT of people!

The state illegally fined the unemployed. The state owes the money. They need to pay it back!