Urging Governor Ige to take action for workers

September 2, 2021
Governor David Ige
State Capitol
Honolulu, Hawai’i 96813

Dear Governor Ige:

We have been dismayed by the State’s poor and ineffective response to the needs of thousands of
unemployed or furloughed workers since April, 2020. Many are low-wage workers or immigrants who are now struggling to sustain themselves and their families. They hail from working class communities which have been hardest hit by the Covid pandemic.

The State’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, after 17 months of keeping its offices closed and refusing to provide direct in-person services and assistance to unemployed workers needing to file claims, recently announced that it would reopen its offices on September 7, 2021, but last week announced that it would not do so.

This has added to the stress and suffering of claimants, many of whom have had to wait for many
months to get through to the offices and then wait for months more to receive benefits. This is

We have met virtually with the DLIR Director Perreira-Eustaquio and have written her several letters
urging the following: 1) open up UI offices statewide for direct, in-person services; 2) have a more
responsive call center and email response system; and 3) modernize and improve the barely functional, archaic DLIR computer mainframe. Almost all our letters and requests to meet with her to discuss alternatives have gone unanswered.

We are therefore requesting to meet with you at your earliest possible convenience and can do so
virtually if not in person. It is time for the state to affirm that assistance and processing of payments to unemployed workers is an ESSENTIAL service—like banking, shopping, and medical needs—and it can be provided at minimum risk to the DLIR workers and the claimants with the proper safeguards in place.

Late last year, we transmitted a petition to you and the DLIR urging that these urgent measures be
taken but received no response. We look forward to meeting with you to discuss these matters.
Please call John Witeck at 347-3306 or Rev. Sam Domingo, 384-8701, to arrange a meeting.

Sincerely, and with urgency,

John Witeck, for the Hawaii Workers Center

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