Rep. Annette Glenn, R-Midland, today renewed her call for new leadership at the state agency tasked with helping unemployed Michigan workers secure jobless benefits.
Glenn initially called for new leadership at the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency in August. Today, she joined her Michigan House colleagues formally calling for the resignation of Liza Estlund Olson, who became UIA’s acting director in November 2020, by approving House Resolution 175.
“A change is desperately needed and long overdue at the UIA – an agency that has failed the people of our state at a time its help was needed more than ever,” Glenn said. “Michigan residents deserve much better service than this agency has delivered. New leadership is necessary to put people first, and help Michigan residents who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own get the benefits they need to feed their families and pay their bills.”
The resolution approved by the House states “UIA’s failures are so widespread and systemic that a change in leadership is the only way to move forward.”
Glenn also supports a new legislative plan designed to help improve the beleaguered agency regardless of who the director is at any given time.
The legislation that soon will be introduced in the Michigan House would create a new independent citizens’ advocate to serve as a point of contact helping claimants resolve issues with the agency. The plan also would require UIA to complete reviews and claims determinations within 10 days, make information about the state’s unemployment trust fund more accessible to the public, and make other important changes.
The UIA has a long list of recent struggles, including inaccessibility and long delays resolving benefits claims during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A federal monitoring report revealed the state agency didn’t disclose a problem related to federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits for nearly six months. After that long delay, the UIA sent letters informing nearly 700,000 people they would be required to fill out additional paperwork to determine if they were truly eligible for the pandemic unemployment assistance they received.
UIA has repeatedly blamed its struggles during the pandemic on software and a third-party vendor – yet the Whitmer administration recently extended its contract with that vendor for another year. The agency also waited more than a year to open its offices for in-person appointments, causing complications and delays for many residents in need of services.
“This agency has struggled throughout the pandemic under two different directors,” Glenn said. “We must make changes directly in state law to strengthen accountability and force improvements for the people of Michigan.”
Rep. Annette Glenn, R-Midland, today welcomed what she called a “long overdue change of leadership” at the state agency tasked with helping unemployed Michigan workers secure jobless benefits.