Bay Area Business Owners Have Trouble Reaching EDD After Unemployment Checks Freeze

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Tens of thousands of people who are out of work because of the pandemic say they’re at a critical point. For many, unemployment checks stopped coming weeks ago as the EDD tries to sort out allegations of fraud and other issues, but many say they can’t wait much longer. 

“I called 26 times yesterday,” said hair stylist Veronica Rodriguez. “Today I’m at 21 and it’s 10:30 in the morning.”

Rodriguez spends her days trying to reach someone at the EDD, only to get hung up on. 

The out-of-work hair stylist and mother of two says her unemployment payments stopped coming weeks ago with little explanation. With her savings drained, she’s considering violating the health order to keep her family fed. 

“We’re put in a position where I don’t want to work illegally but I have to make an income,” she said.

The Center for Workers Rights says their phones have been ringing non-stop. They say the EDD froze payments to hundreds of thousands of people after issues of fraud surfaced. Then Congress delayed re-authorizing pandemic assistance programs forcing them to first cancel and now extend the program. 

“There continues to be issues in implementation of benefit programs that have severe consequences for claimants trying to access them,” said Daniela Urban of the Center for Workers Rights.

The owner of Berkeley hair salon Keter says none of her 18 employees have received payments from the EDD for weeks. 

“Three of them have had issues with the fraud activity,” said Diana Gordon. “And others just can’t certify until Jan. 24. So all of them have no pay right now so I am incredibly worried about them.”

Hair stylist Roxanne Guaragliahad to send in a photo ID to verify her Identity,yet she still hasn’t gotten paid. She’s pleading for the state to help.

“I’m upset I’m upset I’m angry I’m angry for myself for my coworkers I’m angry for the people of California,” she said. “Do something, we’re in limbo. We don’t know what to do.”

The Center for Workers Rights urges people not to flood the EDD with phone calls. They say payments should resume soon. NBC Bay Area reached out to the EDD but they did not respond. 

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