OAKLAND, Calif. - Several weeks ago, the EDD, California's Employment Development Department and keeper of state and pandemic relief for workers, said it would have it's better than 1 million claimants backlog cleared up before February.
For eight months, the Governor, legislators and untold numbers of claimants of unemployment, pandemic and stimulus payments have finally raised enough hell about EDD delays and boondoggles, that the situation has improved a bit.
The latest published information from the EDD's online backlog dashboard this morning is that as of Nov 4th, in round numbers, there are some 890,000 claims still waiting. That is down by 810,000 claims, a 48% drop in the backlog, since the dashboard showed 1.6 million claims in late September.
"I think it's very positive," said Michael Bernick, a labor lawyer with the Duane Morris Law Firm and former EDD Director. "It is a very, very significant drop and the first time we've really had this type of drop since March."
So, with the new speed up systems installed at the behest of the Governor's EDD Strike Force, can EDD meet it's forecast of eliminating the backlog by sometime in January?
"Hopefully, by the end of January we'll have a much better handle on it," said Assemblyman David Chiu of San Francisco.
Chiu, a major force in upgrading EDD's abilities says another backlog is not getting better at all.
"Bank of America who has failed and to this day and this moment have not be able to provide the public with answers on why 350,000 Bank of America debit cars were frozen while honest Californians are trying to access their benefits," said Chiu.
Bank of America issued a statement claiming it's a security issue: "We are working with the state and law enforcement to identify and take action against fraudulent applicants, protect taxpayer money and ensure that legitimate applicants can access their benefits."
That is of little comfort to one claimant. "I waited for 3 or 4 months, it took a few, I waited for and I'm still waiting I guess," said Oakland EDD claimant Shakari Jackson.
That's becuase the debit card backlog is humiliating to people who, through no fault of their own, put their cards into BofA ATMs to be rejected. It's also devastating to their meager finances, money they have worked for and are entitled to.