Self-employed Oklahomans protest lack of unemployment benefits

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Dozens of self-employed Oklahomans gathered at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Monday to protest the way the state has handled unemployment claims. 

The group chanting “PUA fix today,” and “Tier two, where are you?” to voice their anger with the lack of aid coming from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. 

“All we are asking for is the little bit of money they are offering us that would have helped take the pressure off,” Salon Owner Charity Snapp told KFOR.  “None of us are getting that.”

Even as some Oklahomans start returning to work, these self-employed protesters say they are still waiting for relief for the eight weeks they weren’t able to work. 

“Eight weeks is patient enough. I need my money now,” Snapp said.  “My mortgage is due, my car payments are due, and I still have overhead for my business.”

The protest was organized by a Facebook group called “Oklahoma self employed professionals with zero PUA.” 

Organizers say they’ve been patient with OESC under the circumstances, but two months is long enough.  

“We’re tired of the excuses, we’re tired of not getting paid.  That system is completely faulty, it’s glitchy, we’re getting nowhere,” Massage parlor owner Monica Marsh said.  “Now we’re back at work and we still haven’t been compensated for the time lost.”

In reaction to the protest, Secretary of Digital Transformation David Ostrowe sent KFOR the following statement:

“The state has paid out over $736 million in benefits since March 15, and was one of the first states in the nation to process and pay out PUA.  OESC is quickly moving to update manual processes to expedite claims using technology solutions. Even with these rapid solution deployments, there are still ongoing issues with information that is entered by claimants that delays claims processing and must be reviewed by OESC before funds can be released.  Regarding today’s event, everyone has the right to peacefully protest at the State Capitol and I support that privilege wholeheartedly.”

Secretary of Digital Transformation David Ostrowe

Protesters tells us Secretary Ostrowe did show up to the protest with representatives from OESC. 

We’re told they took down the case numbers of everyone that attended the protest, and promised to have their claims fixed by the end of the day.

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