NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - On a conference zoom chat this morning, News4 heard the cries from people across the state.

“There’s nobody to talk to! It’s impossible!! I’ve tried it 100 times,” Knoxville resident Paul Mohlman said.

People waiting weeks for their unemployment benefits.

“I’m just frustrated cause I’m in a situation where I can’t help my family,” Stanton resident Jonathan Murray said.

Or benefits have stopped and they can’t get a hold of the Department of Labor.

“Last week, I went in to certify and its said I could no longer certify cause my claim had expired,” Clarksville resident Christie O’Brien said.

It’s why State Reps. Gloria Johnson, John Ray Clemmons and Jason Hodges are calling on more accountability from Gov. Bill Lee and the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

“The buck stops with the governor. It’s up to him to get this straight. He hired Commissioner (Jeff) McCord. They have responsibilities in the Executive Branch to do this. And they need to step up and do the job,” Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, said.

This week the Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced that it is helping thousands of Tennesseans looking for assistance through a new unemployment benefits program funded by the Federal CARES Act.

“This program offers an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits from the federal government to people who have exhausted either their regular Tennessee unemployment or their Pandemic Unemployment Assistance,” Department of Labor and Workforce Development spokesman Chris Cannon said.

You must be able and available to work in order to be eligible to receive this unemployment. You also have to have exhausted all rights to regular compensation under state or federal law. People will have to go back online and refile their claim once it’s expired.

But those state lawmakers and Tennesseans we spoke with that are still waiting on their funds, don’t believe this program will help.

“That’s just going to backlog everything even more and everybody is going to have to re certify under this. It’s just going to make it even worse than it already is,” Rep. Jason Hodges, D-Clarksville, said.

“We understand that and we are looking at those claims. It’s fewer than 50,000 claims now that are pending in the system for the entire span of the pandemic. So we are working with those claims from oldest to newest. And we’re also going in to try and identify common issues among groups of claims,” Cannon said.

The Department added that it plans on working on Memorial Day weekend to reduce that number even more.


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