Florida cuts hundreds of workers who were answering phones to help the unemployed

Some of the people who were taking calls helping Florida residents file for unemployment may lose their jobs as the state cuts two contracted companies.

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is ending its contract with two companies that were supplying staff to answer phone calls from the unemployed during the coronavirus outbreak, Local 10 News has learned.

According to a DEO spokeswoman, UDT had about 155 representatives working on their account and AECOM had about 800.

“As the Department works to continue to improve the customer service provided to claimants during this unprecedented time, the Department is prioritizing vendors who have fully trained representatives to handle all claimant issues and are more proficient in the CONNECT system, are meeting or exceeding contractual performance expectations and providing high quality customer service to Floridians,” the DEO’s communications director Tiffany Vause said in an email. “Vendors who are not providing as high quality services will not continue to provide services at this time.”

The state said it did not know how many of those workers would lose their jobs, or if they would be reassigned to different accounts by their respective companies.

Vause said that the DEO continues to fund more than 3,000 customer service representatives who are available to assist Floridia residents with reemployment assistance claims.

“The Department will continue to monitor resource demands and needs to ensure service levels for Floridians will continue to improve,” DEO Press Secretary Paige Landrum said in an email. “The Department remains committed to helping eligible Floridians receive their Reemployment Assistance benefits as quickly as possible.”

The state acknowledged shortcomings in the DEO’s ability to handle unprecedented unemployment claims in the aftermath of the initial COVID-19 shutdowns.

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