Press Releases

Herrera Beutler, Washington State Lawmakers Call on Oregon to Improve Unemployment Assistance for Southwest Washington Residents

Letter to Oregon Governor and OED highlights unresponsiveness to Southwest Washington residents who worked in Oregon and have yet to receive jobless benefits

f t # e
Vancouver, August 25, 2020 | comments

Today, a bipartisan group of Southwest Washington lawmakers formally urged the Oregon Employment Department (OED) to better assist Washington residents who are employed in Oregon and need their unemployment claims processed.

In the letter to Oregon Governor Kate Brown and OED Interim Director David Gerstenfeld, Herrera Beutler and the state lawmakers cite the large number of Washingtonians who have yet to receive assistance, or even timely responses, from OED.

“Many Southwest Washington residents have waited months to receive a response from OED. When they finally do receive a response, they often find out that their claims were denied or that they need to provide additional documentation, which typically translates to further significant delays in accessing their unemployment benefits. Our offices have attempted to contact OED to escalate some of the most desperate cases – but we have yet to receive a response. This limbo is untenable for the individuals who worked, paid taxes, and are now trying to access critical resources that Congress made available five months ago,” Herrera Beutler and the state lawmakers said.

The letter, led by Herrera Beutler, was signed by Washington State Senators Lynda Wilson and Ann Rivers, and Representatives Paul Harris, Brandon Vick, Larry Hoff, and Sharon Wylie.

The full text of the letter follows, and a PDF is available here.

Dear Governor Brown and Interim Director Gerstenfeld, 

We are requesting urgent assistance in getting COVID-related relief to Washington state residents who worked in Oregon for at least part of their base year. Specifically, a significant number of these individuals who we represent have yet to receive unemployment benefits. We are requesting that you detail the steps the Oregon Employment Department (OED) is taking to ensure their claims are processed in a timely and fair manner.

We recognize that OED was given a large task in implementing expanded unemployment benefits approved by Congress through the CARES Act in March. However, five months after that bill was signed into law, our offices continue to be contacted regularly by constituents unable to even speak to someone at OED, let alone have their claim processed. This lack of responsiveness and failure to distribute benefits is resulting in medications forgone, rent payments missed and other essential needs being unmet.

Many Southwest Washington residents have waited months to receive a response from OED. When they finally do receive a response, they often find out that their claims were denied or that they need to provide additional documentation, which typically translates to further significant delays in accessing their unemployment benefits. Our offices have attempted to contact OED to escalate some of the most desperate cases – but we have yet to receive a response. This limbo is untenable for the individuals who worked, paid taxes, and are now trying to access critical resources that Congress made available five months ago. 

We urge OED and the Governor’s office to consider creating a channel for local, state, and federal offices in Washington state to escalate claims directly to OED for Washington residents who are owed assistance from Oregon. 

Thank you in advance for your attention to this pressing matter. We look forward to your response.

f t # e