(WFOR/CNN) – Rick Sanchez worked as a bellman at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami.
On Sunday, he joined a caravan of laid-off workers who are calling for their unemployment claims to be processed.
“I feel like the system is designed and we feel its rigged against the working class people,” Sanchez said. “At least my wife is getting 50% of her salary. Thank God I just got my unemployment check the other day.”
The caravan was organized by Unite Here Local 355, a union that represents 7,000 South Florida housekeepers, servers, bartenders, and cooks. Most have not received a dime since filing for state and federal unemployment.
“Some people are understanding and some are not. So, bills have to get paid. We paid our unemployment and we need it now,” said Elise Eckstein, a worker.
The union also wants the state cap to be higher than the current $275 weekly limit, and they’re hoping state Rep. Jose Oliva can do something about it. For the feds, the cutoff is $600 a week.
Union leaders want unemployed workers to get checks starting from the time they’re out of work.
“The number of weeks for benefits needs to be extended because certainly this crisis has happened at no fault of the workers,” said Wendi Walsh of Unite Here Local 355.
Last week, Governor Ron Desantis announced he waived several requirements for filing unemployment claims. He also added computer servers and workers and partnered with fedex to print and mail paper claims.
State representative Javier Fernandez says businesses were able to get help much faster.
“No delays. No issues getting those checks out the door. But when it comes to taking care of workers and people, we have absolutely failed,” Fernandez said.
Jobless claims are expected to continue to rise, just like the unemployment rate, which was up in Florida from 2.8% to 4.3% in March. Nationally, the rate is up from 3.5% in February to 4.4% the next month.
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