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Florida unemployment department cutting ties with call center firms, including one in West Palm Beach

AECOM in West Palm employed 800 workers
Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
Posted at 6:01 PM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 18:31:41-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — When unemployed workers overwhelmed the system in March, the state set out to hire as many phone representatives as they could to help with the problem.

Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity just announced it is canceling contracts with two firms that handle part of its phone customer service, cutting loose nearly 1,000 people.

The two firms were AECOM in West Palm Beach and UDT in Miramar. AECOM had 800 workers and UDT had 155 workers.

"Vendors who are not providing as high-quality services will not continue to provide services at this time," the DEO stated in a news release.

"The Department remains committed to helping eligible Floridians receive their Reemployment Assistance benefits as quickly as possible," the DEO's news release stated.

Efforts to reach both firms affected by the cuts were not returned.

The state said there are still more than 3,000 fully-trained customer service representatives to help people during regular business hours.

Amit Knightly, an out-of-work DJ, has been helping people online with the unemployment applications.

He said the DEO phone service has been a lingering problem.

"There's no improvement with the operators. I'm not going to test them on their knowledge and bash them, but everybody has a certain job to do, certain claims, and nobody knows what they're doing," said Knightly.

Meanwhile, Knightly is still helping people, hosting Zoom conferences to solve unemployment issues.