Letter to the Editor: Labor response raises concerns

I was very disappointed in (Thursday’s) Facebook Live with our Delaware Secretary of Labor Cerron Cade.

Please forgive me for being judgmental of the man at a time when his department is getting crushed with tens of thousands of new unemployment benefit requests. I can only imagine the stress he and his staff are under.

My concern is this: He seemed to not understand the CARES Act and the provisions put in place to assist self-employed people. Instead of giving us a timeline as to when they would be implementing the weekly assistance to thousands of self-employed Delawareans, he chose to spend quite a bit of time lecturing us as to why we are not covered under unemployment insurance, as if we didn’t already know. At one point he even had the audacity to say that us not paying into the safety net was the risk we took when choosing to be self-employed. I found it rather ignorant of him to say such a thing.

This is not an economic downturn where we’re now looking for some kind of handout after not paying our fair share. This is a quarantine. We’ve been forced to stay at home and not work.

For this very reason our government diligently fashioned the CARES Act, which the president signed, to include assistance for ALL our citizens so that no one would lose their homes or businesses, or have their utilities shut off, or even go without food throughout this dangerous and troubling time.

This is not some money grab for people who don’t deserve it. When the government chose to send everyone home, they then made the decision to assist everyone so that we could all get through this.

I was dumbfounded that our secretary of labor did not express a determination to resolve this issue or exhibit a resourcefulness to work with the federal government to swiftly implement the CARES Act in our state so that thousands of self-employed Delawareans can begin receiving the assistance they need to survive this crisis and fend off potential financial calamity.

His misunderstanding of the provisions (mistakenly saying that self-employed folks would not receive the Federal government weekly sum of $600 in addition to the state benefit) concerns me. From an optics standpoint, he seemed to exhibit a lack of urgency toward getting the matter resolved. It left me concerned that the funds for us may be in short supply when his department gets around to figuring things out.

Sol Knopf
Local musician

EDITOR’S NOTE: When Mr. Knopf posted this letter to his Facebook page, Secretary of Labor Cerron Cade responded: “I’m sorry if that’s what you took from my statements about independent contractors. I was attempting to provide background and context regarding how the unemployment system traditionally works for people who may not be as informed as yourself. We are not saying that these workers are not entitled to the new federal benefit. This is not about how we are interpreting the law. This is about the implementation of the law. We were simply explaining that because this legacy state and federally regulated system was never designed for these types of workers, and a new system will have to be developed in order to provide these benefits through Unemployment. We are still awaiting more details from the federal government in order to design this system in a way that meets their requirements. As a result, we do not yet have a firm date as to when this will occur. I know that is not a popular answer, but it is the truth of the matter. Most states and territories are in the same position unless they already had existing safety net programs in place for these workers, which Delaware does not. Once we receive more details from the federal government, we will alert independent contractors and self-employed individuals exactly when and how they can apply. This is covered in our FAQs as well. For the most up to date FAQs please text  Uifacts to 555888. I hear you Sol, and we are pushing and moving. I know that it’s not fast enough. But it’s not for a lack of empathy for the situation that people are experiencing. We should have more information by next week’s address on this topic.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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