Democratic lawmakers to hold virtual town hall to answer questions about unemployment

Watch: Democratic lawmakers to hold virtual town hall to answer questions about unemployment

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — While unemployment continues to impact thousands of people in the Mid-South, some say getting the resources they need is far from easy. It can be a long and grueling process.

FOX13 spoke to a substitute teacher who is still struggling to find work. He said it’s not easy. And it took several weeks to get his unemployment money.

Others told FOX13 they’re growing tired of waiting.

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FOX13 first spoke to Frank Johnson back in April right after the substitute teacher found himself among the unemployed.

“They just told us they weren’t going to pay us and we were going to have to file unemployment insurance,” he told FOX13.

After filing that claim, Johnson told FOX13 he faced problems along the way.

“They are all closed up now so you can’t go into a physical office. A lot of those people started working from home. Exactly when this happened,” he said.

Johnson said he even ran into trouble getting the status on his claim and experienced long waits for updated information.

“I’m talking to a lady in her house and I did have an issue with some information being wrong so I had to correct that, but I could only call. It was an hour and a half wait. The lady who I go over the phone, she was frustrated. Not from me talking to her but she was frustrated she couldn’t do more to help,” he said.

And he isn’t alone. The Tennessee Department of Labor Workforce says they've seen a surge in unemployment claims in due to COVID-19.

“This is what budget cuts look like. In times of this we have cut the budget for these offices and these services and when we need them, look what happens,” Johnson said.

In response, The Tennessee House Democratic Caucus is hosting the ’Tennessee Unemployment Nightmare Virtual Townhall’ Friday afternoon. State Representative Antonio Parkinson told FOX13 the system is broken.

“People all across the state of Tennessee are suffering finically due to the fact that the state of Tennessee was unprepared,” said Parkinson.

Parkinson said he hopes people will get the answers they need from the town hall.

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“We’ve asked for the governor and the commissioner of Work Force Development to be present at this town meeting,” he said. “Sometimes you have to hear it for yourself so you can attach a human to the issue.”

As for Johnson --it took him a while to get unemployment, but he’d prefer to be working.

“I am looking for alternate work. That is one of the requirements for unemployment. I am looking in terms of education. All I can do is sit and wait,” he said.

The meeting is Friday, May 22 at 2 p.m. and will be live-streamed on the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus Facebook page and shared on other members’ pages.

To participate in the meeting, you can pre-register for the event on the TN House Democratic Caucus’ Facebook page or through this link

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