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Central Florida Union Leaders, Laid off Orlando International Workers Call for Unemployment Assistance Reform

Photo: Sharon McCutcheon @sharonmccutcheon

Central Florida union leaders are calling on Governor Ron DeSantis to make more unemployment assistance available to laid-off workers.

A new report shows more than 74,000 workers applied for unemployment assistance last week. 

Unite Here Local 362 Leader Eric Clinton says the process to apply for unemployment assistance is confusing and takes too long. 

Clinton says even when people qualify, the money might not be enough.

“Currently, the Florida unemployment insurance benefits are $275 dollars per week and that will only last for twelve weeks unless the federal government steps in to do something about it.”

Clinton says he wants DeSantis to double these benefits to $550 dollars a week. 

Otherwise, he says workers will have to make tough decisions between buying food and getting healthcare.

Bartender Lynne Reback who lost her job  at a Ruby Tuesday’s at the Orlando International Airport also wants to see a change in the system. 

She applied to the program to get help supporting her five children as her husband’s commission has also been cut. 

“If we are accepted for unemployment, which I definitely meet all the criteria for it so I don’t see why I wouldn’t be, $275 dollars a week is not enough to sustain a family of our size.”

Reback says for now, the family is living off a month’s worth of savings and has had to cut cable and unnecessary subscriptions, turn off the lights during the day, and ration food.

If you’ve had issues applying for unemployment, tell us about it.

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Danielle Prieur

About Danielle Prieur

Reporter & Fill-in Host

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, ... Read Full Bio »