The Spark

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

Unemployed Workers Vilified

Jan 3, 2022

A disgusting attack on the working class and the working poor is on full display in Michigan. Two extremely separate pandemic events having to do with unemployment benefits are being lumped together into a bullshit sandwich.

At the start of the pandemic, federal rules for unemployment were changed so that for the first time ever, part time and irregular workers, gig workers, and independent contractors could collect unemployment—temporarily.

The news media is now making a big drama over a report just released by Deloitte & Touche of an audit they did for Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA). The report states Michigan paid up to 8.5 billion dollars in unemployment benefits to fraudsters during the pandemic. The report states less than 1% of applicants were fraudsters but they collected up to 22% of benefits!

Now, corporations and politicians are rewriting history to create the impression in the public eye that billions are missing in Michigan because of unemployed workers.

It’s not just a Michigan issue. Ohio recently reported 3.8 billion lost and California reported its agency paid out at least 20 billion to people they label as “criminals.”

What should be clear is that the software Michigan and other states use for their unemployment systems is faulty. Michigan admits that, when they say they plan to correct past computer problems by updating their systems. Who created this faulty software? Corporations that contract with state governments to provide “services.” In Michigan, it was FAST Enterprises, SAS Institute, and CSG Government Solutions that created Michigan’s MiDAS (Michigan Integrated Data Automated System).

The company that created the unemployment software in Ohio that was faulty was Deloitte & Touche!

So, the company that just published the audit of Michigan will likely bid on the contract for the new system!

The second event putting the unemployed in the news in Michigan is state actions to recover “overpayments.” For 350,000 people, many with the lowest incomes, overpayment recovery has been waived.

For another 241,000, their cases are being reviewed to see if they have an “eligible COVID-19 related reason to have received benefits.” If not, they might be asked to repay up to 30,000 dollars!

Sugar Law Center Attorney Tony Paris states he has clients labeled as “overpaid” or “ineligible” who ARE eligible. He states he could prove it “if they just for the love of God could get a day in court or actually speak with an adjudicator.”

Michigan’s computer system was able to handle 5000 claims in a week during normal times. But in 2020, with COVID-19 creating levels of unemployment faster than ever in history, Michigan at one point got 388,000 unemployment claims in a single week! That tidal wave of human need was never going to be met by the systems that were in place.

No worker should be on the hook to pay back money because of a broken system! And the drama about missing money needs to put responsibility on the corporations that produced the problem and got paid for doing it!