House Labor and Public Employment Committee Chair Representative Aaron Ling Johanson (Moanalua, Red Hill, Foster Village, ʻAiea, Fort Shafter, Moanalua Gardens, Aliamanu, Lower Pearlridge), released the following statement on Governor David Ige and the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ (DLIR) announcement of a new contracted call center commencing operation today and the hiring of 100 new unemployment insurance (UI) claims adjudicators:
“The Administration’s use of federal funds to stand up this new 200-person virtual call center and hire 100 new unemployment adjudicators to fix outstanding unemployment and PUA claims is a strategic game-changer. So many people are still in need and those who are eligible, deserve to be finally paid their benefits.”
“This dramatic ramp-up of unemployment professionals who have experience in addressing other states’ backlogs, looks poised to help address Hawaiʻi’s lingering unemployment backlog. Lack of manpower has been the biggest barrier to fixing the unemployment backlog; this dramatic step by the Administration is critical to overcoming that barrier and effectively helping those awaiting their unemployment benefits.”
The Department’s new, contracted call center is a 200-person operation addressing both traditional unemployment and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims. Maximus, the mainland contractor, has been utilized to address 13 states’ unemployment backlogs. The operation commenced today and will run through the end of December. The 100 new UI claims adjudicators will reduce the backlog of traditional UI claims where a dispute on eligibility exists. According to the U.S. Department of Labor regulations, this quasi-judicial process requires fact-finding as the mechanism to resolve an unemployment claim dispute. This complexity and legal nature of this part of unemployment claims have contributed significantly to the outstanding backlogged UI claims.