Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Under Fire as Unemployment Portal Crashes

Posted: Apr 13, 2020 4:00 PM
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Under Fire as Unemployment Portal Crashes

Source: AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) has received an abundance of criticism for her vaguely written stay-at-home order, which is said to be one of the strictest orders implemented on the state level thus far; Gov. Whitmer bans all “non-essential” travel and activity, but fails to define what encompasses “non-essential” or “life-sustaining.” 

Part of Gov. Whitmer’s order was an expansion of unemployment benefits to accommodate Michigan residents affected by COVID-19: 

“This executive order will provide immediate relief to those who can’t go to work, and who rely on their paycheck to put food on the table for themselves and their families. I urge everyone to make smart choices at this time, and to do everything in their power to keep themselves and their loved ones safe,” Gov. Whitmer said in March.

Self-employed workers, 10-99 independent contractors and low-income employees were eligible to apply for benefits via Michigan's Department of Labor and Economic Development starting Monday morning:

However, the unemployment portal for those workers to apply for benefits broke down on Monday morning, leaving employees out of work stuck. Gov. Whitmer's administration pointed to problems with the application system two weeks ago, but had yet to announce any tangible improvements:

“Our system has been able to stand up to the increased demand, but it does need increased support and we’re working on that,” Whitmer said.

While Michigan workers face road blocks to apply for unemployment on the website run by her own state government, Gov. Whitmer has her eyes on a bid for vice president alongside Joe Biden, as Tori Sachs, Executive Director of Michigan Rising Action points out:

“Gov. Whitmer’s administration has had weeks to add additional staff or resources to ensure people in Michigan can apply for and receive unemployment benefits during a forced state shut down yet the system is still not working. It’s time for Gov. Whitmer to stop focusing on raising her national profile in a bid to be the VP nominee and start managing the coronavirus crisis response for the state to ensure all available resources are reaching the Michiganders who need them,” Sachs said.

A Change.com petition to recall Gov. Whitmer is currently circulating:

Gov. Whitmer’s public relations campaign may land her the second-in-command spot on Biden’s presidential ticket, but unspecific, blanket bans and non-functional unemployment portals will not pull the people of Michigan through COVID-19.

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