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James Maass: 'My entire resume is three jobs working from 16 years of age to 65. I must have been doing something right.'

The Oregon unemployment system is ludicrous at best.

At the age of 65, I recently lost my job of 23 years with what would be construed as a pretty major U.S. international company. I wasn't going to collect unemployment, but since I've paid into the system for over 45 years and last collected unemployment over 32 years ago, it seemed illogical to not collect what I've paid into my entire life.

The sign-up process is a nightmare.

Due to fraud, the state has implemented a system called "ID.me." Since my phone was over two years old, it wasn't compatible, so I drove 25 miles to a better computer, since the one I had was taken away when I lost my job. Several people assisted me through this convoluted process of lining your face up just right for a facial scan.

Finally, through a series of downloading and uploading photos we finally got me signed up. (Let me say this is the Readers Digest version of the elongated complicated signup process.)

Within a month, I was hired for a full-time job that was supposed to start Aug. 1. Now it won't start until Oct. 1 due to politics, but I've taken a part-time job, which is a huge pay cut, but for me, taking any job is the right thing to do.

Countless times, I've asked for help and had questions that I sent the state of Oregon unemployment folks, and nobody ever gets back to you — until finally, at the end of August, I heard from an adjuster who had a series of questions, more like an accusatory interview alluding to the fact that I had done something wrong.

Here's the rub: I'm working part-time, knowing I'll have a full-time job soon, but I'm expected by the state to apply for five jobs a week and contact these people accordingly. So, I'm supposed to apply for a job knowing I will have a full-time job soon. If I get that job the state wants to force me to look for, am I supposed to just quit it when my other job starts on Oct. 1?

The answer was, "Yes, if you're working part-time, you're expected to keep looking for work even if you know you have a full-time job shortly." How does that make sense? I'm supposed to go through the hiring process with a new company to quit to start another job.

The overall tone of the call I received was implying I was committing unemployment insurance fraud. Now they want me to give back the money from one of those weeks because I didn't have five contacts.

If this wasn't true, I'd say it's hilarious and typical government logic.

Oh, but I can appeal the state taking back the few hundred dollars in question.

They make you feel like a criminal. My entire resume is three jobs working from 16 years of age to 65. I must have been doing something right.

The unemployment system verges on harassment. All I've tried to do was everything right since I lost my job.

James Maass is a Beaverton resident.


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