TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Unemployment protesters gathered at the Kansas State Capitol on Friday, demanding to hear from the governor, as some jobless Kansans are going unpaid, after months of waiting for benefits.
Cassandra Dickerson, a mother of three, planned a series of protests earlier this month. The protests are starting to gain momentum, as more protesters showed up from across the state in support of her mission.
“At this point, this crisis is so big, she herself, who governs this state, who was voted for, she needs to address this,” Dickerson said.
Twenty people gathered with signs venting their frustrations with the state’s unemployment office. This includes payment delays, troubles with unemployment fraud and long call lines.
Dickerson said the second march was for Kansans to bring their delinquent notices from missing payments on bills as some continue to await unemployment payments. Others have struggled to get in contact with someone who works at the state’s labor department to speak about their claim.
They are now challenging the governor to meet with unemployed Kansans “face-to-face” to hear about their struggles with the state’s unemployment system.
“I think people would just want to talk to her and to tell their story,” Dickerson said. “Because, to date, we don’t really feel like she even cares.”
The governor has told people to call their lawmakers for help getting in touch with the department. Some protesters said they’ve also tried contacting the Governor’s office.
The Kansas Department of Labor has been dealing with a high volume of fraud and unemployment claims and has pointed to their antiquated technology as a sore point in addressing these struggles, along with delays in implementing unemployment benefits from U.S. Congress.
Grasso points to a delay by Congress and former President Donald Trump in why many payments couldn’t go out faster, providing the following timeline:
8/7/20 – State leaders said “Congress needed to come together and act and pass legislation to extend benefits for those in need.”
12/9/20 – State said “CARES Act was ending on 12/26/20, calling US Congress – who had not acted up to that point on passing more legislation – to act soon and pass an extension.
12/27/20 – President signed federal legislation after CARES Act expired.
Mid January 2021 – State “did not receive guidance from U.S. Department of Labor on guidance on implementing the Continued Assistance Act extensions”Kansas Department of Labor
The state’s unemployment office has said it’s working overtime to address these issues and that everyone who’s owed money will be paid.
The next protest is planned for 10 a.m. March 5 at the state capitol.