Protesters gather at Lake Eola calling for changes to unemployment system

Around two dozen people showed up for a rally at Lake Eola Park on Wednesday protesting Florida’s unemployment system.

Protestors with the group Fix It Florida say the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) website and CONNECT system needs to be fixed, so they can get the unemployment benefits they’re entitled to.

"People are not getting paid, even though there’s a high percentage according to the website and DeSantis that are getting paid," said organizer Michelle Geist. "All of us here have been rejected or had issues with filing unemployment."

 "Three months no money!" exclaimed Jennifer Kane who said she had to put a hold on her big bills because she has no money.
"It took me four weeks just to get into CONNECT, .at which point it continued bouncing me out continuously." 

During a news conference last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state has paid out over a million claims totaling more $3.5 billion -- more than the last four to five years combined.

"We have people submitting and getting paid within a 10-day window now, and I think that’s a good thing," DeSantis said.

"It took me 10 weeks to get benefits," explained Monica DaSilva. 

She said she got paid, but her identity was stolen after downloading her information into the system. She's mad because the DEO never contacted her.

"I received a letter from the state of Massachusetts stating I was applying for PUA [Pandemic Unemployment Assistance] benefits in that state," she said. "I’ve never been to Massachusetts."

Geist added, "The system needs to be fixed! They spent $77 million on a system that’s broken!. You can’t get through to anybody! You can’t find out why your filing isn’t working!"

The protestors said they will continue to fight for the benefits they deserve.