Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HR0226
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Full Text of HR0226  102nd General Assembly




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2    WHEREAS, The Illinois Department of Employment Security
3(IDES) is directed by State law (20 ILCS 1005/1005-45) to help
4the prosperity of Illinois' laboring men and women; and
5    WHEREAS, IDES is directed by State law (20 ILCS
61005/1005-100) to operate a statewide network of public
7employment offices; and
8    WHEREAS, IDES has traditionally operated public employment
9offices throughout Illinois, where job-challenged Illinois
10residents can go for immediate and direct assistance; and
11    WHEREAS, These IDES public-access public employment
12offices closed down "temporarily" in March 2020, due to the
13COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and, as of March 2021, have
14remained closed; and
15    WHEREAS, Due to the same pandemic, the need of the people
16of Illinois for IDES advice and counsel has sharply increased;
17at calendar year 2020 year-end in December 2020, Illinois
18nonfarm payroll employers reported employing 419,100 fewer
19people than in the previous year; and
20    WHEREAS, These numbers have generated a statewide



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1unemployment rate of 7.6% in December 2020, with more than
2468,300 Illinois residents estimated to be unemployed and
3actively searching for work and additional tens of thousands
4of Illinois residents having dropped out of the labor force in
5despair; and
6    WHEREAS, This six-figure total of Illinois individuals
7includes men and women who need help filing for unemployment
8insurance benefits, request counsel in searching for new
9employment, or require additional and further assistance for a
10wide variety of pandemic-related unemployment problems; and
11    WHEREAS, Under current IDES policies, there are no
12physical locations that these people can visit to get this
13help; and
14    WHEREAS, People with standardized problems are expected to
15interact with a computer robot, the "IDES assistant", on the
16IDES site, but not everyone has access to a computer and,
17furthermore, constituents state that the webpage robot puts
18people into a spiderweb and does not answer their questions;
20    WHEREAS, People with additional questions and requests for
21assistance are supposed to call a IDES hotline phone number,
22(800) 244-5631, but our constituents report that the hotline,



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1when used by Illinois residents who need help, generates a
2cold, automated response; persons who call into the hotline
3with a problem are told to deposit their names, phone numbers,
4and identifying information on a segment of electronic
5recording and to wait for a response; and
6    WHEREAS, In a report broadcast on Chicago's
7WBBM-TV/Channel 2 on Monday, March 8, IDES reported that as of
8the most recent reporting period 155,765 calls from Illinois
9residents were sitting in its callback queue and they had not
10yet called back any of the names on this lengthy list; and
11    WHEREAS, At the current rate of callbacks, persons who
12left their names and phone numbers in IDES' callback queue
13cannot expect to get a return call until more than one month
14has passed since depositing a request for assistance,
15including many urgent requests for immediate help; and
16    WHEREAS, In an Illinois House public hearing carried by
17video technology under conditions of pandemic social
18distancing held on Thursday, March 4, senior officials of IDES
19confessed to House members that their employees have not been
20able to respond to Illinois public requests and pleas in a
21timely manner; and
22    WHEREAS, Many of the problems represented by these 155,765



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1unanswered phone calls are complex problems requiring an
2Illinois resident to find and submit one or more pieces of
3information written on a legal form, one or more coded
4passwords, one or more pieces of personal secure identifying
5information (such as a Social Security number), or some
6combination of these elements; and
7    WHEREAS, When problems like these are addressed over an
8audio link, more than one phone call is often required to deal
9with these requests for assistance, leading to a significant
10number of currently open IDES case files and unresolved
11issues; and
12    WHEREAS, Other Illinois State agencies also do work for
13which face-to-face interactions are desirable or necessary
14and, recognizing this, have taken steps to partially reopen
15their offices under pandemic conditions of social distancing;
16examples include the Department of Driver Services within the
17Office of the Illinois Secretary of State and the Family
18Community Resource Centers operated by the Illinois Department
19of Public Aid; therefore, be it
22recognizing the unique circumstances of the COVID-19
23coronavirus pandemic, we call upon the Illinois Department of



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1Employment Security to immediately reopen their public-access
2public employment offices to provide face-to-face help to
3Illinois residents who urgently need assistance; and be it
5    RESOLVED, That we call upon all of the other departments
6of the State of Illinois to provide IDES with advice,
7technical assistance, and guidance on how to safely reopen
8public-access office spaces under current conditions; and be
9it further
10    RESOLVED, That we support the working people of Illinois,
11whether currently employed or not, including the working
12people of IDES; we recognize the stressful circumstances of
13operating a publicly accessible office in a time of pandemic;
14and be it further
15    RESOLVED, That suitable copies of this resolution be
16delivered to Governor JB Pritzker and IDES Acting Director
17Kristin Richards.