Union Opposes IDES Cuts — Even as hundreds of thousands struggle with unemployment, the Illinois Department of Employment Security is moving forward with plans to cut services, close offices and lay off staff despite clear evidence that these cuts will hurt jobless workers, IDES employees and veterans.

IDES Director Jay Rowell has blamed all these cuts on reduced federal funding due to a drop in the number of unemployment insurance (UI) claims being made—and alleges that the recently-imposed “sequester” could make the situation even worse.

In testimony on March 27 before the Illinois Senate Appropriations Committee, AFSCME political director Jason Kay pointed out that in reality filing of unemployment claims is on the rise and the cuts IDES plans are greater than the federal cuts. He urged legislators to provide more oversight of IDES’ operations.

“Our union’s examination of the department’s finances and information from IDES employees reveals managerial deficiencies, skewed priorities and a top-heavy staff that favors managers over frontline employees,” Kay told the committee.

The staff cuts will not only mean longer waits for filing for UI, but will also have an impact on services to help the unemployed find new jobs and on efficient collection of unemployment payments from Illinois employers.

The Union is challenging IDES’ layoff plan, filing a statewide grievance and a demand to bargain over the re-organization IDES is pursuing through the layoffs. The Union is currently doing a detailed analysis of the agency’s finances and of projected federal funding to identify options in future budget discussions.