Hospitality Workers Take to the Streets Amid Frustration with Florida Unemployment System

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Dozens of angry protesters took to the streets Sunday afternoon as frustration with the state’s unemployment system has grown.

A caravan of cars, filled with hospitality workers that were recently laid off, was parked outside the offices of Florida Rep. Jose Oliva in Hialeah.

The group demanded that Oliva put pressure on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and increase unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Workers can’t wait,” protester Wendi Walsh says. “They can’t buy food. They can’t pay their rent. They can’t get their prescription drugs. People are gonna die if they don’t get money soon.”

Workers like Mustaf Alijaj say they still haven’t received their benefits.

Alijaj was a doorman for the Fontainebleau Hotel. He says he’s been trying to apply for benefits since he was laid off in mid-March.

“April’s rent already came and went,” Alijaj says. “May’s rent is coming up and I have no money coming in.”

Unite Here Local 355 - a union which represents about 7,000 housekeepers, cooks, bartenders, servers and workers at Miami International Airport – says 98 percent of their members have been laid off.

According to union leaders, almost none of those workers have received unemployment benefits.

NBC 6 reached out to Oliva but have yet to receive a response.

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