Assemblywoman investigates N.J. unemployment office, meets with resistance from staff

By The Staff

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What’s more appropriate than a New Jersey legislator visiting a state unemployment office?

After a citizen complained about poor service?

That’s exactly what Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-39) did on Monday morning. She dropped by the N.J. Department of Labor’s unemployment group branch in Hackensack to meet Bergen County residents and hear their concerns after a young woman (Monica Brinson of Hasbrouck Heights) posted her own trials and tribulations on social media. Keep in mind, Save Jerseyans: these aren’t people looking for a handout. They’re out of work New Jersey taxpayers trying to obtain unemployment benefits from the system they’ve paid into.

Assemblywoman Schepisi – who shared the short video HERE on her personal Facebook page – got some interesting albeit concerning feedback from folks who were more than willing to share their stories.

“Over the past two weeks I watched through social media the struggles of Monica Brinson as she attempts to have an unemployment claim fixed. Today I went to the unemployment office to see firsthand how it operates. I almost got physically removed for videotaping the attached but afterwards did get a comprehensive tour and analysis of the good, bad and ugly of these offices. First, the State needs to provide additional personnel,” Schepisi explained in a Facebook follow up post. “There is currently 1 employee working today in this office to service a county of almost 1 million people. They stopped handing out tickets to see people at number 7. That is right, for the entire day they will only be able to service 7 people. The group of people to the far right in the video against the wall are there to try to reach a live person at the Department of Labor. These are “dedicated phone lines” that are supposed to allow people to reach a human being but the minimum wait time on these phones is in excess of 1 1/2 hours. Many of the people I spoke to this morning wait outside in the cold for upwards of several hours because only 5 people at a time are generally allowed in the building. People will wait for 3-4 hours inside and then find out that they cannot be seen that day. We must find a better way to provide staffing.”

Then the unemployment office’s staff asked her to stop recording.

Schepisi, an attorney, immediately demanded that they identify a rule barring her from recording in the public section of a state office, but two unidentified staff members failed to do so. Things eventually cooled down, however.

“On the upside I was provided with a comprehensive tour of the building, including the employment opportunities, the Bergen One-Stop Career Center and the available training programs. In a separate post I will provide some of the resources given to me today,” Schepisi added.

“Finally I am glad that I did not need bail money today. The armed guard with the weapon on his side did tell me that if I continued to hand out my assembly business card to those seeking help that I would be physically removed from the premises. An exciting way to begin a Monday morning,” concluded the Assemblywoman.

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