Protestors gather to bring attention to overwhelmed unemployment system

Officials said nearly 92 percent of qualified applicants have been paid

LAKE EOLA, Fla. – Over a dozen protesters gathered in Lake Eola Park Wednesday to bring attention to delays in jobless benefits from the state's unemployment system.

The rally was part of the “Fix It DEO” day, which brought together unemployed workers in Orlando, Tampa and Tallahassee.

Michelle Geist, who is a furloughed Disney reservation employee, said she helped organize the protest because she is one of the thousands who are still waiting for support from the state.

"This is ridiculous that we can't collect the funds that are there for when we have a time in need," she said.

Jennifer Kane drove from Melbourne to attend the protest and said she's been waiting for more than 12 weeks for jobless benefits.

"I've had sleepless nights and I've had anxiety. It's hard. It's a struggle," she said.

According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, nearly 92 percent of qualified applicants have been paid, but there are still hundreds of thousands who haven't received any money.

Geist said she will continue to call on others to speak out until every unemployed worker gets their benefits.

"People are struggling and they need the money and they need the money now," she said.

State Sen. Linda Stewart of Orlando is meeting with the Governor’s staff Wednesday to talk about the people still waiting for benefits.

She told News 6 she supports the protests because the Department of Employment Opportunity’s log jam is very real.

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