Unemployed Hospitality Workers Ask Governor to Pay Their Bills

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A group of unemployed people staged a “die-in” protest at Miami Beach demanding Governor Ron DeSantis to help them get their unemployment checks or pay their bills. 

The protest started as a caravan from the Overtown area to Miami Beach. 

The group included unemployed hospitality and service workers of UNITE HERE Local 355 and SEIU 32BJ. 

Many of the people say they have not received any state or federal unemployment benefits yet. 

“We have a lot of bills we need to pay, like electric bill, rent, we have the car payment, insurance,” Analia Rodriguez said. 

She says she was laid off from her job at the Fort Lauderdale Airport. 

She says she submitted an unemployment application online and by mail, and despite her claim status saying “active” she has not received an unemployment check yet. 

“He needs to do something, pay our bills, send us the checks, do something, we can’t live without a pay check. It’s been more than 2 months and we are struggling,” Rodriguez said. 

UNITE HERE Local 355 represents service and hospitality workers. 

Wendi Walsh with UNITE HERE Local 355 says a recent poll of their workers shows over 70% have not received any unemployment aid. 

“We have people who have been told they are ineligible almost entire workplaces in some cases, where every worker is told they are ineligible. We have people who are just pending, they applied back in mid to late March and their status is still just pending with no explanation on why they are not getting paid,” Walsh said. 

The latest numbers from the Department of Economic Opportunity show 95% of eligible claimants have started receiving benefits. 

The data shows 485,996 claimants were deemed ineligible and only 120,028 of those qualified for federal unemployment benefits. 

When it comes to the PUA benefits, the DEO data shows 75,217 claimants have started receiving that benefit. 

The PEUC benefit, which extends the number of weeks a person can receive unemployment benefits, is just now in a “testing phase” according to a DEO spokesperson. 

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