NAPLES — Unemployed workers across the state are finally saying they’ve had enough.
Many have been trying to apply for benefits since the beginning of the pandemic, but they still haven’t had their claims filed. Now, workers in 11 different cities across Florida are planning protests to demand that the government do more. Unemployed workers in Naples are planning to use the busy intersection of 5th Ave. and Route 41 as a stage to voice their frustration. Organizer Bonnie Armstrong said she’s been trying to file for more than a month, without success.
“My whole platform is, we’ve been failed, you know, we are the working class, and government is failing us," said Armstrong.
Armstrong used to work as a server at a high-end restaurant downtown. Now, the sidewalks are empty during what should be the busiest time of year. So, she’s taking her message to the streets.
“We want to be on a busy intersection just to draw attention to us who have been ignored, and maybe, maybe there’s somebody out there, or maybe more people can start petitioning the Governor," said Armstrong.
Armstrong is part of a Facebook community that includes hundreds of people around the state having trouble filing for benefits through the state website.
“We just need to change how it’s processed, how people can apply, and how quickly they can get their benefits," said Armstrong.
Armstrong said she’s also tried reaching out to her elected officials.
“I feel as helpless as my constituents," said State Sen. Kathleen Passidomo.
Passidomo said she sees the closed signs all over town, and knows more needs to be done.
“The Governor has moved 2,000 people from other state agencies to work on this, hired an additional 100 staff members, got additional computer capacity, but it’s just not, not sufficient to handle the workload," said Passidomo.
Armstrong said, with her savings running out, she sees a protest on 5th Ave. as the only way to put pressure on officials to get her claim processed.
“There’s so many of us out there, so just want people to know," said Armstrong.
The protest will take place on Friday at 3 p.m. They will be practicing six feet of social distancing, but Armstrong said people are also welcome to simply put signs on their car to avoid being in public.