At the Central Committee Meeting on July 9, 2020, the Multnomah County Democrats passed this resolution.
Multnomah County Democratic Central Committee
Resolution: 2020 – 12 Accountability for Unemployment Compensation
Whereas the continued delays in processing of Unemployment Insurance (UI) assistance has exceeded 100 days,
Whereas at the present time nearly 70,000 Oregonians have been denied the right to a timely review of their UI applications,
Whereas those same out-of-work Oregonians face dire economic hardship, based on their denial of rightful financial support as guaranteed by state law,
Whereas Governor Brown’s limited action toward Department restructuring has not gone far enough to resolve the ongoing crisis at Oregon Employment Department (OED),
Whereas Speaker Kotek’s one-time $500 Emergency Relief proposal is a much-needed step toward financial relief but is ultimately insufficient to the mounting financial desperation of unemployed Oregonians,
Whereas Senator Wyden’s American Workforce Rescue Act is a bold step to redefine the Unemployment Crisis, but will not take effect until August 2020 at the earliest,
Whereas OED’s failures are in violation of the Basic Rights, Economy and Equity Articles of the Multnomah Democrats 2020 Platform,
Now therefore the Democratic Party of Multnomah County resolves that,
Immediate action and accountability is required at OED to ensure that:
(1) the current pace of processing of UI applications improves significantly, with restructuring of department staff and additions from agencies such as Department of Administrative Services to assist with processing,
(2) all Oregonians who have filed for benefits with OED prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic emergency and whose applications remain unprocessed shall be paid full benefits immediately, with a subsequent review of eligibility once all claimants have been paid. Processing of these claims shall be kept to the minimum required to prevent organized fraud, focusing on confirming identity and employment status. The Department shall be directed to adopt a default position of paying benefits should there be any doubt as to eligibility. The Department shall also default to extending existing benefits wherever possible over requiring applicants to re-apply or apply for new claims or programs.
(3) The Oregon Employment Department must address the underlying reasons for delays in processing benefit claims, and must change its focus as a Department. By the end of the 2020 legislative session, the state shall engage in a review of the Department’s technological assets and evaluate options for updating these assets to current standards. Priority shall be given to replacement systems which comply with industry standards, and preference shall be given to open source technologies as solutions. In addition, the state must also evaluate the policies, processes and guidelines of the Department on all levels. All such policies, processes and guidelines shall be evaluated from the perspective of ensuring that Oregonians receive benefits, with all other priorities being distinctly secondary.
4) We recognize that the proposed actions are not a complete solution, and that the issues with employment benefits are both far reaching and long-term. These actions are only intended as an emergency solution to an immediate problem. As such, we also direct the Multnomah County Democrats to form an ad hoc committee to formulate a permanent solution to the long-term problems faced by Oregonians needing COVID-related assistance, including economic hardship. This committee shall form a report detailing known issues and formulating suggested solutions to be presented to the 2021 Oregon Legislative Session.
Adopted on: July 9,2020
Resolution Submitted by Platform Resolution and Legislative Committee
Aaron Levine, Technology Officer, Democratic Party of Multnomah County
Send to the following Legislators:
Oregon Governor Kate Brown
David Gerstenfeld, Acting Head of Office of Employment Division
Katy Coba, Director, Department of Administrative Services
Oregon State House Speaker Tina Kotek
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden
Faith E Ruffing email@example.com