State Representative Tom Weber (R-Lake Villa) has issued the following statement on the ongoing office closures at the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The statement is taken from a speech given by Rep. Weber on the House Floor on May 7th, 2021:
“It’s May 2021 and I rise today to question this body and the Pritzker administration as to why the Illinois Department of Employment Security offices remain closed.
Unanswered calls, unanswered questions, and an unresponsive agency. It’s unacceptable. We have a lot of confusion, appeals, and important questions that are better handled in person. Some people just don’t have the internet connection they need to handle services online and they’ve called in vain for months to get someone on the phone for help.
Government employees have been eligible for vaccine for nearly two months. Those that chose to receive one are therefore fully vaccinated. There is no science backed COVID related reason these state facilities remain closed. Private businesses and other agency offices, like the Secretary of State’s office have been safely open for months. Throughout the pandemic, these offices have done their best to stay open, only closing during the worst of the pandemic, and opening as soon as possible. Why have we haven’t seen the same effort put forth at IDES?
The agency has cited reports from other states of 8-hour long lines as a reason for not opening. First off, these reports are months old, from the height of unemployment during the pandemic and second off, a clear need for in person services is not a reason to forgo them, but a clear validation that these offices should be reopened. The agency has cited threats made against their offices and while of course we want no harm to come to our state employees, IDES has known about these threats for months and there are steps the agency can take, but have yet to. Opened offices would also ease the understandable frustration felt by these desperate individuals who after months of trying to get help and getting no response make threats in the heat of the moment.
IDES offices have inexplicably and unreasonably been closed for over a year. The agency must do everything in their power back to serving the people of Illinois at their full capacity. This is not a Republican or a Democrat issue; it has affected Illinoisans of all creed and color. The only group these continued, unnecessary closures are hurting are our hardest hit communities and low wage earners. There has been no state agency that has been so crucial and yet so inefficient and insufficient in their response during this pandemic as IDES.
I call upon the governor, IDES, and this body to do more and to do better.”