• Hawai'i House Democrats

House of Representatives, State Workers Respond to Call to Support Unemployment Office

Updated: May 13


Unprecedented effort of the Capitol, unions, and state government to process outstanding unemployment insurance claims


Honolulu, Hawaiʻi Hundreds of state workers from the Hawaiʻi House of Representatives, the Hawaiʻi Government Employees Association (HGEA), the Hawaiʻi State Teachers Association (HSTA), and the University of Hawaiʻi Professional Assembly (UHPA), with the support of Governor David Y. Ige’s administration, have come together to volunteer to train and work with the state labor department to process the backlog of unemployment claims recently filed due to the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

It represents a dramatic partnership and launching of a large-scale, coordinated operation to address the skyrocketing unemployment claims that now number over 240,000 and have affected more than one-third of Hawaii’s workforce.

“We recognized that a massive amount of help would be needed to tackle the backlog of unemployment insurance claims that exploded in a few of weeks. The fastest way to tackle this enormous problem was to coordinate an unprecedented, across-government effort,” said House Finance Committee Chair Sylvia Luke. “This effort was stood up in just three days.”


“Hawaiʻi is a special place where everyone steps up to help each other and today’s unprecedented partnership is due in large part to HGEA spear-heading a successful volunteer drive with HSTA and UHPA that generously provided over 300 volunteer state workers from across state government. Over 70 plus volunteers are also coming from the State House of Representatives and the Legislative Reference Bureau to aid in the effort. The processing of an Unemployment Insurance claim is tedious and complicated and DLIR was working day and night to process them. This should provide much-needed assistance to exponentially increase the processing capabilities of the state to deal with the outstanding unemployment insurance claims and get people the relief they need,” said House Labor Committee Chair Aaron Ling Johanson.

“I want to thank the volunteers, the unions, the State Department of Labor & Industrial Relations, Department of Accounting & General Services, Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, and Office of Enterprise Technology Services for helping to make this tremendous effort possible,” said House Speaker Scott K. Saiki.

Along with hundreds of other state workers, Representatives Saiki, Della Au Belatti, Sylvia Luke, Aaron Ling Johanson, Tom Brower, Lisa Kitagawa, Stacelynn K.M. Eli, and Ty J.K. Cullen, have volunteered to take the training and learn to process claims.


Training sessions will be held this week at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center on Monday and Tuesday, with newly trained volunteers expected to start processing claims by Wednesday.


State employees who would like to volunteer can sign-up at www.hawaiiworks.org and should contact their union representatives or department deputy directors.

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