Group to protest against Georgia Dept. of Labor in Columbus

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A peaceful nonviolent protest is planned for Monday, September 14 at the Georgia Department of Labor in Columbus, Georgia. The protest begins at 1:10 p.m.

Dubbed “All Households Matter,” the event’s organizer, Rhonda Watson says the goal of the protest is to illuminate financial apartheid and hardships that many residents of Georgia are facing today. 

“I believe I had to be the forthcoming voice for this community to do that. Although I am not from Columbus Georgia, I am now a current resident and I demand for all of Georgia to be treated like any other state during these unprecedented changes. Georgia is far beyond backed up in the process of presenting its residents with reasonable compensation from the DOL since the beginning of Covid -19,” said Rhonda Watson, organizer, All Households Matter.

Watson says she’s concerned with the problems unemployment seekers are having reaching someone at the DOL. In published reports, State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler has said the agency has increased staff to about 1,300 employees who handle claims on a daily basis. But he adds the kind of workload brought on by COVID-19 would have warranted a staff of 6,000. Butler says even that number would not have alleviated filing hiccups and the time it’s taking to investigate fraudulent claims or making sure the people filing are who they say they are.

Watson says her case is one example of the problems they hope to highlight with the protest.

“If I am not an eligible American, then who is? I am an enrolled college student here in the state of Georgia. I work  and pay taxes just like every one else yet I was denied and determined ineligible to receive unemployment benefits because I am currently employed with no hours being provided to work. If I hadn’t worked at all, I’d be determined ineligible. If I work too much and make too much money, I’d be determined ineligible. Yes I make a little bit more than minimum wage but I was still determined ineligible. So if I, an American woman does not qualify during these times, what American does qualify? The DOL does not realize that these claims are actually people lives that are being denied,” said Watson.

There is some good news on the horizon. Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler announced Thursday that many people collecting unemployment benefits in Georgia will get up to $1,800 in extra federal assistance over the next two weeks.

For more information contact Rhonda Watson at rhondawatson475@gmail.com

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