Dane County Job Center
Regional Training Center/Ball Room
1819 Aberg Ave.
Management: James Buchen, Earl Gustafson, Susan Haine, Ed Lump and Daniel Petersen
Labor: Dennis Penkalski and Red Platz
Chair: Daniel LaRocque
Department staff present: Hal Bergan, Andrea Reid, Lutfi Shahrani, Dick Tillema, Beverly Crosson, Terese Wojick, Jorge Fuentes, Brian Bradley, Troy Sterr, Tom McHugh, John Zwickey, and Carla Breber
Others present: John Metcalf and Bob Anderson
Mr. LaRocque calls the meeting to order and notes that a quorum is present.
Mr. Bergan begins with an update on DWD 133, Temporary Help Employers. The Department did not submit the proposed rule to the Legislature. It will be submitted in January.
Budget issues are beginning to close in on us. Our federal grant was reduced by $1.4 million and there is less carry over than last year. We may need to come back to the Council to ask for the use of $1 million in Reed Act funds for UI administration.
EnABLES (project for benefits and appeals) has a major release scheduled for October 30, 2006. Testing is ongoing and while we are optimistic about meeting this deadline there are many issues that can arise during testing. If we can not make that date, we have the ability to postpone it by a couple of weeks. After that, we would have to wait until after our heavy winter workload.
The status of SUITES (tax system project) is much the same as when we last met. It is a bigger, more comprehensive system with a much longer testing window. It is scheduled for completion in September of 2007.
Adjudications are scheduled 30 days out, which is unusual for this time of year. We are working hard to remedy this situation and reduce the wait. We are hiring limited term employees, especially former adjudicators who can make an immediate impact.
In addition we are re-engineering the investigation process. There has been a pilot in the Eau Claire Adjudication Center under the leadership of Mike Sabatke to take issues from a list (“DREJ” list), not schedule them but rather assign them to an adjudicator who would call the claimants and employers as needed to immediately investigate and try to resolve the issues. Hopefully, this will make our decision-making process quicker and more efficient.
Results so far have been 100% timeliness, a small improvement in productivity and the claimants and employers like this new procedure because it provides results sooner rather than later. There are similar efforts in the Madison and Milwaukee Benefit Centers. There will be a transition to this process change during the busy winter workload season. We are optimistic although it remains to be seen whether this effort will succeed.
Wisconsin is playing a leading role in a national project to obtain separation information electronically – the Separation Information Data Exchange System (“SIDES”). The objective is to reduce time and effort in obtaining separation information from employers and third party administrators. This is one of several remedies to the problem of obtaining complete and timely information.
The system would utilize a common instrument with electronic delivery among all states involved. A “low tech” pilot with fax proved encouraging. The project involves DOL and a 5-state consortium. We will make a Special Budget Request (“SBR”) to DOL. The plan is to create a core system and user interface. The target date is March 2008. Expenditures short term will be covered by the grant and the hope is that longer term the savings in operations costs will cover the cost of operating the system.
On Thursday, September 21, we will be meeting here in Madison with senior staff of TALX UC Express. We will discuss ongoing issues, which have progressed over the past year. We believe TALX represents about 30 percent of the market for employers in UI. One topic will be how they arrange to participate in the SIDES project. Mr. Gustafson noted that some agencies have utilized web-based access to agency documents and information by parties to proceedings, specifically including the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. The Department will explore what is done by that agency and others.
A Motion to approve the Minutes of the UIAC Meetings of May 31, 2006 and July 19, 2006 is made and unanimously approved.
Mr. LaRocque reported briefly on the status of proposed changes to DWD 127 (Work Search) and DWD 129 (Benefit Claiming Procedures). They were submitted to the Legislature on August 28, 2006 and have been assigned to one committee, the Senate Labor Committee. No action is required at this time. Hal noted that an accumulation of additional rules changes will be brought to the Council in the meetings to come.
Mr. LaRocque reported on the status of the proposed changes to DWD 128 (Able to Work and Availability for Work) and briefly described the presentation on the proposal made to the Council at the July 19 meeting and progress since. A memo from Mr. LaRocque dated September 19, 2006, to the Council is distributed to the Council, which summarizes the Department’s progress and the purpose and effect of the rule change. Attached to the memo is a September 19, 2006 draft proposed rule and Analysis comparing the key provisions of the proposed rule to the current rule. Also distributed to the Council is a one-page data summary prepared by Mr. Richard Tillema, titled “Estimated Numbers of Disqualified Claimants Not Able or Available for Work” and a packet of copies of the pages from the Disputed Claims Manual showing administrative procedures currently used in A&A issues. Unemployment Insurance Directives (“UID’s”) are also available on request.
Mr. Tillema explained that his data show that 8,100 claimants were disqualified as not able or not available for one year. The document displays subcategories and counts on each. 8,100 claimants represent roughly 3% or 4% of all claims and an aggregate value of about $300,000. It is an annualized estimate for 2003 or 2004 based on a sample taken from claims experience.
The latest draft proposed changes to DWD 128 represents the Department’s attempt to accommodate changes suggested by Council members and Department staff.
Mr. Penkalski asked about the application of A&A rules to apprenticeship, where school attendance is required either day or night or in combination. Would a “student” of this type be disqualified? Most of these courses are considered “approved training” and the student would not be disqualified from benefits.
Mr. Platz asked what the definition of “labor market area” is. The Department would rely on COED to determine which counties fall within the labor market area considering normal commuting patterns and census data. We will continue to rely on it. In other words, we look at where people in your area with similar skills and experience travel to seek work. For example, if you live in Dane County, your labor market is Dane County.
May a claimant leave the area for 48-hours, such as for deer hunting? If you are not in the area but are able to be contacted, you can satisfy availability. Absence from the labor market is not disqualifying if the claimant has made arrangements to be contacted by prospective employers and is able to return to his/her labor market with 24 hours of such contact. If you have been attached to the labor market area because of a shutdown subject to recall you do not have a restriction that is a barrier to employment for the first two weeks of the shut down.
Mr. Fuentes addresses the commuting time. The reasonable commuting time would be based on travel distance and the wage offered by the job. Most states have more specific limits. COED data and reports remain appropriate as factors in the proposed rule.
Reasonable distance might encompass a commute to another county. Ms. Haine states she is comfortable with the reasonableness standard.
The flexibility to respond to issues with such a standard is one of the driving considerations in the proposed change.
Mr. Robert Anderson, Legal Action of Wisconsin, addresses the Council regarding provisions on “domestic circumstances” that were deleted from the previous draft proposed rule. Footnote 1 was added to proposed rule and addresses child care. What about a claimant whose child care responsibility arises, rather than during the base period, but for the first time at separation? Discussion ensues about the meaning and purpose of the footnote and the language in the preamble portion of the availability provision that refers to “withdrawal from the labor market.”
Mr. Fuentes notes that the overriding principle in availability is whether the claimant has either withdrawn from the labor market or remains attached to the labor market.
Mr. Buchen states that the argument in favor of the change to the 50% threshold agreed upon in October 2005 was based on the unavailability in the first shift; the need for childcare does not excuse or negate the requirement of availability.
Discussion follows concerning the observation that childcare responsibility may create a “new” restriction, one that did not exist in the base period. Comments by Department staff are made to the effect that it not intended that such new restrictions be given the same consideration to be afforded to those that existed during the base period.
Mr. LaRocque notes that the leading idea in the shift and time provision is the idea that a claimant is considered to have withdrawn from the labor market if not available for full-time suitable work during the standard hours worked in the labor market. Then and only then do we consider the base period experience.
Mr. Lump asks about why the changes to provisions extend beyond the matter agreed to in October 2005. The reason is the A&A Work Group’s study and recommended changes that related to both ability to work and availability for work. It would be difficult to effect changes to the shift and time restrictions called for by the October 2005 agreement without specifically addressing the other factors to be considered in determining availability.
Mr. Tillema recalls that a more expansive change was proposed, to effectively excuse restrictions arising even after the base period, and not agreed upon.
Department staff will meet with Mr. Anderson to discuss his concerns.
Mr. Tillema presents Reserves needed before states can move to the lowest tax rate. Thirty-three states were used for this presentation. There are several methods used by states to determine Reserve fund adequacy:
Adequacy can vary among the states from one month in reserve to 21 months in reserve. Mr. Tillema explains each of these five methods comparing the different methods for different states as well as Wisconsin. Discussion ensues concerning how other states raise employer tax rates as needed to avoid a negative trust fund balance. Mr. Tillema will look into which of the five methods were in use in the states that borrowed from the federal government.
Next meeting is scheduled for November 16, 2006 at 9:30 a.m.
Meeting is adjourned.
March 25, 2013
Unemployment Insurance Division, Bureau of Legal Affairs (BOLA)