Oregon Employment Director Erickson ousted

Oregon

Kay Erickson has accepted the Governor's request to resign

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Director of the Oregon Employment Department has resigned, the office of Governor Kate Brown announced Sunday.

Brown’s office said Kay Erickson’s departure is effective immediately and that current Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Division Director David Gerstenfeld will serve as director in the interim.

Governor Brown asked for Erickson’s resignation following growing frustration over the OED’s lack of response to the floods of unemployment claims over the past several weeks.

“The continued delays from the Oregon Employment Department in delivering unemployment insurance benefits to thousands of out-of-work Oregonians are unacceptable,” said Governor Brown in a release on Sunday. “This is an unprecedented crisis, and the problems at the department demand an urgent response. I’d like to thank Director Erickson for her years of service to the State of Oregon, but it is clear that new leadership is needed.”

On Saturday, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden called for Erickson’s dismissal saying “Oregonians thrown out of work through no fault of their own deserve a state Employment Department capable of responding quickly and competently to their urgent needs during this economic and public health crisis.” Wyden concluded his plea for Erikson’s resignation by saying the agency’s “litany of incompetence and unresponsiveness has hit the breaking point,” and that the situation must get fixed immediately.

Following the Erikson’s resignation, Wyden said the following on Twitter:

People laid off as a result of the coronavirus pandemic have been struggling to receive benefits from OED. One man said he has now gone two months without a paycheck, and as of May 18, OED said it had processed hundreds of thousands of claims, but there are still just under 50,000 claims that had yet to be processed.

OED: CLAIMS BY THE NUMBERS SINCE MARCH 15:

  • 445,000 claims filed for regular benefits
  • 245,000 people receiving payments (about 55%)
  • 73,000 claims filed were not eligible for benefits
  • 42,000 claims are eligible, but didn’t continue with process
  • 19,000 claims were filed in the last three weeks
  • 11,000 people will get benefits after waiting week

Erickson was appointed as OED’s director in August of 2016 after decades in the private sector and 12 years with the Department of Administrative Services.

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