ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. — A Zephyrhills woman has been so fed up with Florida's failed unemployment system that she's helping to organize a protest outside the Capitol in Tallahassee on Monday.
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"We want to make a point and we want to be heard," said Kim Donley, 59. "Nobody is listening."
Donley was laid off from her bartending job on March 17 as the COVID-19 pandemic began to hit Florida and has not been able to file her unemployment application online or over the phone.
"It's ridiculous. You can't get a hold of anyone," she said. "You call the phone numbers and all you get is 'we can't take your call right now.'"
Donley finally decided to mail in a paper application.
The Zephyrhills woman said she has been reading a lot of comments from frustrated Floridians on social media who are having similar experiences with the unemployment system.
"It's very frustrating. I sit here and I read all these comments on Facebook and I get so aggravated," she said. "I have to stop and put it down."
That's when Donley decided to team up with the founder of the Facebook page 'action group for COVID-19 unemployment' to organize a protest.
"We're going to drive to Tallahassee on Monday at 2 p.m. We're going to meet at the Capitol because we're all coming from all parts of Florida," she said. "We're not going to get out of our cars. We're just going to drive around holding signs out the window. Try to get some attention to this situation."
Donley said at the same time, they'll be hosting a virtual protest on the Facebook page for those who can't drive.
Licensed massage therapist Lisa Gecelosky from Largo said she could tell that people were starting to get very aggravated and would take some action.
"Everybody is growing more frustrated and more anxious," she said. "They want to be heard."
Gecelosky said she successfully filed her unemployment application through the website on March 20 and it has been 'pending' for nearly 4 weeks.
"I thought I was ahead of the game but it's still pending," she said. "There's just no movement on it. I try to call the number and I get disconnected every time."
On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis was defensive when asked about the website continuing to crash and the phones not being answered.
"We now have over a thousand people answering the phones," he said. "There was 60 servers brought in. There's a whole bunch of things done — we've had hundreds of thousands of successful submissions."
DeSantis said it usually takes three weeks after an application has been accepted before the person receives any money. The Governor also said he told Ken Lawson, the Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, "we've got to do better than that."