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Rep. Bollin renews call for new leadership at Michigan’s unemployment agency
RELEASE|September 9, 2021
Contact: Ann Bollin

State Rep. Ann Bollin today reiterated her call to replace Unemployment Insurance Agency Director Liza Estlund Olson.

Bollin, of Brighton Township, said Estlund Olson revealed nothing at today’s House Oversight Committee hearing to warrant staying on the job. Estlund Olson was appointed as director 10 months ago by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer after the previous director resigned amid a long list of UIA failures, and the department has not noticeably improved.

“Director Estlund Olson had an opportunity to restore some faith in her leadership at this legislative hearing, but she failed to provide any reason for confidence,” Bollin said. “She didn’t take responsibility for the agency’s failures, and tried to shift blame to others. I believe more strongly than ever that a change in leadership is needed at the UIA to provide a new direction. The people of Michigan already have suffered too much because of this agency’s shortcomings. The people of Michigan deserve better.”

Bollin first called for Olson’s removal in late August.

The unemployment agency has consistently failed Michigan residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, the agency paid out millions in fraudulent claims, delayed payments for months to tens of thousands of real Michigan residents, and allowed state employees to jump the line ahead of  hard-working families trying to make ends meet. Since Estlund Olson took over, UIA failed a federal monitoring report last winter and still has not fixed all of the problems that were uncovered eight months later. UIA knowingly gave out benefits to ineligible recipients for months, and then caused confusion by sending 700,000 people a letter raising the possibility of back payments.

UIA has repeatedly expressed concerns with its software and a third-party vendor over the past year and a half, including the failed website workers needed to use to apply for benefits. Despite this, UIA and the governor recently extended the contract with that same vendor for another year.

There is still a backlog of 20,000 of Michigan workers who have not been paid their unemployment benefits. UIA waited 15 months to open any offices for in-person appointments, making it more difficult for many Michigan residents to get their questions answered or receive benefits.

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