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More Than One Third Of Claims For Gig Workers, Self-Employed Unpaid – CBS Chicago

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Hundreds of thousands of Illinois’ gig workers, contractors, or self-employed workers have applied for jobless benefits due to COVID-19.

And for months, we’re been hearing horror stories from applicants who say they haven’t seen a dime.

The CBS 2 Investigators are uncovering just how many of these out of work people are still not getting paid.

Our public records request produced nearly 500 pages of weekly status reports. Those reports are sent from Deloitte, the contractor hired to install and maintain the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) state website, to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).

The reports reveal why people like Jonathan Robinson, who filed for PUA benefits, haven’t received their money.

Jonathan Robinson didn’t get fired from his leasing job in April.

But he might as well have.

Because after schools shutdown he had to take over as primary caregiver for his two young children. That meant he couldn’t work. He applied for PUA and went into a never-ending spiral.

“It was denied, it was pending, it was denied, it was pending,” he said.

According to IDES’ own website, he qualified for PUA benefits.

Apparently it’s not that simple.

“Oh, we don’t see the document, or PUA doesn’t cover that, or you didn’t apply for PUA,” Robinson reiterated all of the explanations he received through months of denials, appeals, and reconsiderations.

At last check he was told benefits were still “pending.”

“Every time I call or request a call back I’m running into issues and no one seems to know what’s going on,” he said.

 

So how many people are in Robinson’s shoes? We wanted to know. So we requested 20 weeks’ worth of status reports and painstakingly sifted through them all.

We discovered:

• On July 17, 142,156 claimants had not been paid – that was 43% of all active claimants and the highest of the year.

• The week of August 21 saw the lowest number of unpaid claimants: 131,328 or 37% of active claimants.

• The week of October 9 (the most recent weekly status report) 142,580 out of 392,833 had not been paid.

That’s 36%, or one out of three people, applying for PUA and getting nothing like Robinson.

The records show that’s pretty much par for the course since IDES contracted with Deloitte to run the system back in May.

We also wanted to know why these people aren’t getting paid.

Robinson told the CBS 2 Investigators he hasn’t seen a dime, “…not a dime. Since April 19.”

The records show that unpaid claims boil down to two main categories. Each unpaid claim can be in more than one category.

Identity verification issues stonewalled more than 40,000 claims as of last week’s report.

Certification issues held up more than 85,000 claims that same week.

Robinson wasn’t shocked to learn how common his issues are.

But he’d like more transparency and more communication.

“Now it’s time for me to get some of those benefits that I paid into for years and years. And now that it’s time to do that its disappointing that I now have to go through these hoops and hurdles to do so,” Robinson said. “And I’m still waiting. Still waiting.”

It’s important to note that in providing additional weeks of federally funded state benefits to these specific types of workers, the PUA system also provided an $300 to $600 per week for much of the summer. The $300 per week benefit ended in early September.

Shortly after that, on September 17, the PUA system was down from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The records show it was a “view” problem on the “home page and payment history screen.” That issue was resolved by removing the problem code.

Nearly five months after the site went live, problems still arise.

The state contract with Deloitte totals nearly $9.5 million to install the system, train employees and maintain and resolve problems and defects. Illinois has already paid $6.2 million of that amount.

CBS 2 is committing to Working For Chicago, connecting you every day with the information you or a loved one might need about the jobs market, and helping you remove roadblocks to getting back to work.

We’ll keep uncovering information every day to help this community get back to work, until the job crisis passes. CBS 2 has several helpful items right here on our website, including a look at specific companies that are hiring, and information from the state about the best way to get through to file for unemployment benefits in the meantime.

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Target is giving frontline workers $70 million in bonuses — but their growing gig workforce say they just got hit with a major pay cut

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  • Target just gave 350,000 frontline workers $70 million in bonuses.
  • The company announced the bonus Monday, the same day some of its Shipt gig workforce protested outside Target headquarters in Minneapolis calling for fairer pay.
  • Willy Solis, a lead organizer with the nonprofit Gig Workers Collective, said gig Shoppers were a part of why Target was able to enjoy 273% annual growth in same-day service sales — including curbside pick up, drive up, and Shipt.
  • If you are a Shipt Shopper and would like to share your story, email aakhtar@businessinsider.com.

Target announced Monday that it would offer more than 350,000 frontline employees a $200 bonus each, or $70 million in total.

Target previously gave all hourly full-time and part-time store and distribution center workers $200 bonuses in July. Eligible employees include hourly members in stores and distribution centers, seasonal hires, and hourly team members who “support Target’s guest and team member contact centers.”

Meanwhile, some gig workers for Target-owned delivery service Shipt held a demonstration Monday outside of the company’s headquarters in Minneapolis protesting a new pay model.
Pay for Shipt workers, called Shoppers, is now determined using an algorithm rather than a flat rate, the company confirmed to Business Insider. Shipt classifies Shoppers as independent contractors who are not eligible for employee benefits, including minimum wage or healthcare.

Read more: Leaked Target memo reveals how the retailer is trying to obliterate germs in its stores by wiping down everything from ATMs and handcuffs to Bullseye, the company’s mascot

Some Shoppers have said the algorithmic pay model has lead to lower wages. Molly Snyder, the chief communications officer for Shipt, said Shoppers make $21 per shop including base pay, promo pay, and tips, which did not change on average during the new pay model, but some workers may have seen a decline in pay. Snyder also said there were more Shoppers for Shipt “than ever before” last weekend.

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One study, conducted by Coworker.org and an MIT PhD student, found the new pay model resulted in lower pay for 41% of Shoppers, and the number of people earning less is growing.

Willy Solis, a Shipt Shopper and a lead organizer with the grassroots organization Gig Workers Collective, said it felt insulting that Target give bonuses at the same time Shipt Shoppers are calling for fairer pay. Solis said Shoppers were a part of why Target was able to enjoy 273% annual growth in same-day service sales — including curbside pick up, drive up, and Shipt.
“We’re grateful and happy for Target employees to be recognized and for receiving that extra pay, but at the end of the day, we as Shipt shoppers have contributed significantly to make Target a very profitable company,” said Willy Solis, a Shipt Shopper and a lead organizer with the grassroots organization Gig Workers Collective.

Read more: Target just blew the doors off its first quarter earnings. Target CEO Brian Cornell says it was due to these two key factors.

Target bought Shipt in 2017 for $550 million to compete with Amazon and Walmart on same-day delivery. Target is currently valued at $82.5 billion.

If you are a Shipt Shopper and would like to share your story, email aakhtar@businessinsider.com.

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More Than One-Third Of Claims For Gig Workers, Self-Employed Unpaid – CBS Chicago

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TOM PURCELL: The fate of gig workers could turn on ballot question | Opinion

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Become an employee with full paid benefits, or remain a mostly independent gig worker? That debate’s raging in California as November’s general election approaches, and its outcome is likely to affect the entire country.

According to The Washington Post, “Uber, DoorDash and other gig economy companies are bombarding TV airwaves, social media and even their own apps with ads and marketing materials promoting a ballot initiative [Proposition 22] that they say would improve drivers’ financial situation and working conditions but that would also deny them the right to be classified as employees in California.”

Proposition 22 would give gig workers limited benefits and wage and worker protections, but establish them as an independent class of workers – and undo a 2019 California law, Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), that “would guarantee drivers access to the minimum wage, employer-provided health care and bargaining rights.”

I’ve long been self-employed, with the exception of some recent cybersecurity consulting contracts in which I was paid as a full-time employee with benefits, but that’s been my choice.

Being fully self-employed is not for the faint of heart. Besides cybersecurity consulting and writing a newspaper column, I have an apartment-rental business. I recently earned a real estate license and am selling properties, too.

I manage my own invoicing and taxes. I know to the penny – once my CPA explains it to me and I drop whatever mug of coffee I’m holding – how high my income taxes are. Few employees are aware of how much they pay in taxes or what their benefits cost their employers – which would be helpful to know before voting for new government policies that will increase both.

I manage my own health care insurance, which has gotten plenty expensive in recent years for individuals who don’t qualify for subsidies, in part because of government attempts to expand health insurance to everyone.

But, again, I choose to be self-employed. I like the freedom it provides. But it also makes me keenly aware of the unintended consequences of government regulations and policies.

California’s 2019 AB5 law would require Uber, for instance, to hire drivers as full-time employees with health insurance, paid sick leave and other benefits. Benefits are wonderful, but come at a price.

Uber claims that “if the company were forced to make all drivers across the country employees, for example, it could only support 260,000 full-time roles,” reports The Post. “That compares to 1.2 million active drivers the company was hosting on its app before the coronavirus pandemic.”

Uber also says fares would increase and drivers would be less available and timely – which means you might have to wait a while for your ride home to arrive after a night of enjoying the pub.

What it comes down to is that some politicians believe individuals shouldn’t have the freedom to exchange their skills and services for money from organizations, because organizations take advantage of those individuals. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris support AB5, not the watered-down Proposition 22.

Others think that in a free society, individuals should be able to offer their professional talents to anyone willing to pay for them, and government shouldn’t restrict the terms they negotiate. President Trump’s campaign supports that approach and is critical of AB5 (but has not, to my knowledge, supported Proposition 22).

That’s something else to think about when you vote in November’s election.

TOM PURCELL is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated. Readers can contact him at tom@tompurcell.com.

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