Testimony opposing DLIR’s Director Confirmation, February 3rd, 2021

To: Senate Committee on Labor, Culture and the Arts
Attn: Senator Brian Taniguchi, Chair, and Committee members

Hawaii Workers Center Testimony for February 3, 2021, Confirmation hearing
Opposing the Confirmation of Anne Perreira-Eustaquio as DLIR Director

The Hawaii Workers Center (HWC) is a resource and organizing center which addresses the
issues and concerns of low-wage workers and immigrants. For the past 6 months, we have
been publicly advocating for unemployed workers, urging the DLIR to reopen its
unemployment offices and provide safe, direct, in-person services for the thousands of workers
who have been furloughed or permanently laid off since March 2020. Given the poor condition
of DLIR’s archaic mainframe computer, the difficulty of submitting a claim, and the
department’s failure to be responsive to claimants’ emails and phone calls, direct servicing is
urgent and essential.

We have met twice with DLIR Director Perreira-Eustaquio, conducted news media
conferences, launched a petition to the Governor, and held several peaceful demonstrations to
urge that the DLIR Director and state officials to reopen DLIR offices so that unemployed
workers can be served directly, get assistance as needed, and receive answers to their
questions. It was pointed out to her that banks, pharmacies, groceries and other businesses
had instituted ways to serve customers safely and directly and not closed their sites to the

The Director responded by expressing concern about exposing her staff to Covid, but said
DLIR would examine ways to provide for safe, direct services in the future. Yet nothing was
done to implement this. She also said DLIR had already made contracts to update the
computer system but months later, very little has been done and thousands of workers are left
without assistance. And DLIR’s call center efforts have been laughable though very painful to
those frustrated in trying to get resolutions of their claims and assistance. Many have also
received no answers to their emails. This failure of DLIR to respond and communicate
adequately is deplorable and inexcusable.

In a more recent interview, the Director said she was not worried about exposing her staff to
the pandemic but was concerned that the DLIR would be overwhelmed by the number of
unemployed persons submitting claims or seeking answers or assistance. Yet it was the
ineptness of her department that created the problem of thousands needing to file claims and
get timely responses and assistance.

We believe the DLIR Director has not been honest, transparent, responsive,
compassionate, or fair to UI claimants and their advocates. She has steadfastly refused
to allow for direct services and assistance to unemployed workers. For this reason, we
believe she should NOT be confirmed as DLIR Director since she and DLIR have so
grievously failed in their responsibilities to unemployed workers and the public and
have caused a great amount of unnecessary suffering and anxiety. She should not be
confirmed by the Senate to remain DLIR Director.

Submitted by Rev. Sam Domingo, John Witeck, and

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