Laid-off V.C. Summer workers report problems collecting unemployment

Laid-off V.C. Summer workers report problems collecting unemployment

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Months after losing their jobs troubling times are continuing for laid-off workers at the VC Summer nuclear site.

In recent weeks some have been facing and reporting difficulties collecting their unemployment benefits to the state.

"I still haven't gotten mine," said 50-year-old Thomas Rich, who used to work as a surveyor on the Jenkinsville site. "We've [he and his family] had to borrow money from people to make ends meet."

Rich said he initially filed for unemployment on Aug. 1. That was one day after he and many of his co-workers working for the subcontractor FLUOR at the nuclear site got word that the reactor project would not be moving forward.

In order to collect his benefits, Rich said he had been filing weekly claims with the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce. The purpose of that is so the state can keep track of his search for new work.

Rich said he began experiences problems the week of Sept. 10 when his unemployment check did not arrive via direct deposit. Since that time he has spoken with state DEW at least 12 times for later benefits that also didn't come.

"I called my bank. My bank's got no record of it," he said. "They don't like to say that they have a problem with the system or anything."

This past month state DEW did switch to a new online portal and system for processing unemployment claims. State officials say while some of the roughly 20,000 people collecting unemployment have faced problems for the most part issues have been scarce.

"People are still filing…you know people who are still in the system they're filing weekly," said Bob Bouyea, who is the director of communications and marketing for state DEW, "we've handled over 15,000 claims in three and a half days.

We've paid $2.6 million in benefits over those three days."

Bouyea added that the day after the new system launched the department did experience some minor setbacks due to Hurricane Irma. A Charleston call center that handles unemployment claims did have to be closed on Sept. 11 due to the storm.

According to Bouyea all other call centers for the department were up and running that day.

"We're here to help," Bouyea said, "if anyone is having an issue contact us and we'll see what the issue is and resolve it."

Meanwhile Rich, who has currently relocated to Denver with his family, said that he has been in touch with the state regarding his issues. He is hoping to finally resume collecting his benefits in the coming days.

"Right now we've got bills, credit cards and stuff like that. All these places are calling us wanting money that we can't give them," he said.

Officials with state DEW say if you currently collect unemployment and are experiencing problems call (866)-831-1724.

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