Rural farm workers who struggled to get unemployment benefits say CONNECT is not equitable for all – Tampa, Florida

Tampa, Florida 2021-06-11 20:50:48 –

Tallahassee, Florida — Many people are now familiar with how difficult it is to get unemployment benefits in Florida. There was a lot of talk about the outdated CONNECT site and all its flaws.

However, farmers living in rural areas of the state say they had a more difficult time and do not believe that access to the site is fair to everyone.

When COVID 19 took over in 2020, agriculture was a dangerous job, according to Robert Cruz, director of agricultural worker advocacy. Florida Legal Services.

“Usually when we talk about agricultural workers, they are transported via a bus system and the social distance between them is not that great,” he said.

Cruz adds that many of them didn’t even have to wear masks.

“If you worked on a farm, you were at high risk of getting sick,” he said. “And when you get sick, so does your family.”

That is why many workers in the rural Immokalee community, about 166 miles south of Tampa, have sought financial assistance from the Department of Economic Opportunities.

“When they lose their jobs, they lose their jobs not only for themselves, but for their entire family,” he said.

And according to Cruz, the homeless have become a real threat to many. Still, it turned out to be very difficult to access the system.

“They try to borrow from friends and family and compensate by other means, but in the end, the failure to get unemployment compensation is serious,” he said.

Florida Rural Legal Services has heard from up to 100 people in the Haiti community and 20-25 people in the Hispanic community struggling to access language barriers and technology.

“”They rely on friends, family, or acquaintances because they don’t own a computer and don’t have access to it, “says Cruz.

And even after they gathered the documents they needed and finally got them out to the computer, Cruz says uploading the documents was a problem.

“For some reason, the fully scanned document displayed on the monitor was not excluded by the system,” he said.

This resulted in an account lock that ABC Action News has been reporting for several months.

During February State Senator Janet Cruz has submitted the following bill:If passed, CONNECT should be fully mobile friendly. Currently, DEO specifically states that “tablets, phones and other mobile devices are not currently supported by CONNECT.” The bill died two weeks ago on the Commerce and Tourism Commission.

But the IS F, the company hired by the state Internal audit The CONNECT system earlier this year suggests that the state will develop a mobile-enabled version of the new system, allowing people to access CONNECT as if they were computers.

The DEO says it is working on a plan for the new system and is instructing people to “wait” for official details.

FRLS will hold an outreach event at Immokalee on Thursday, June 17th at 11:00 am (106 S 2nd St, Immokalee, FL 34142) to help others address unemployment issues and account locks. .. For more information, please call the Farmworkers hotline at 1-844-443-2769.

Rural farm workers who struggled to get unemployment benefits say CONNECT is not equitable for all Source link Rural farm workers who struggled to get unemployment benefits say CONNECT is not equitable for all

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