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Unemployed workers protest against the Maryland Department of Labor

Workers claim thousands still waiting for benefits
unemployment protest.jpg
Posted at 7:27 AM, Nov 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-02 07:29:41-04

BALTIMORE, Md. — Protesters channeled the spirit of Halloween as they delivered a coffin to the front door of the Department of Labor in downtown Baltimore on Monday.

The Unemployed Workers Union had planned to protest on Friday but postponed their demonstration on account of rain.

A small group gathered on Monday afternoon outside the office of State Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson at the Department of Labor.

Lawyers representing unemployed workers in Maryland want answers on why more than 5,000 workers still haven't to receive their pandemic unemployment benefits.

Union leaders said the coffin represents the death of the unfulfilled hopes, dreams, and expectations of those unemployed workers.

Union attorneys said they've filed more than 5,000 grievances on behalf of unemployed workers in Maryland who are still waiting for their unemployment checks.

They said they filed those complaints both digitally and on paper but that it appears to have fallen on deaf ears as they've yet to receive their benefits or an answer why not.

Union attorneys are still waiting to hear a judge’s decision on the Department of Labor's request to dismiss their class action lawsuit.

The union had filed a motion of its own on the grounds the Department of Labor failed to provide information the union is legally entitled to as part of the discovery process in court.

The union says it asked but never received answers to questions such as how many outstanding claims the department has or its policies for putting someone on hold status.

Unemployed Workers Union attorney Sharon Black said "this is unacceptable. The Department of Labor is a state department. It is supposed to serve the people of the State of Maryland. It is a public agency. It is not a private agency where they can not be accountable to the people or they can hide information."

Meanwhile, Black said they're not giving up the fight.

"Basically, we're saying this is arrogance, arrogance. So, we're going to keep up the fight. It means if we have to keep coming back here, keep coming back here, do we have to sit in, do we have to do things even larger than what we're doing, so we can basically get their attention. So they can do the right thing that they're supposed to do, and that's pay people their benefits that they're owed," Black said.

Union attorneys want the Department of Labor to pay unemployed workers what they're past due and not to wait for settling the class action lawsuit before taking action.