Orlando ironworkers struggling to collect unemployment from DEO

Rank and file members turn to Make Ends Meet for help

ORLANDO, Fla. – A majority of the Iron Workers union local 808 in Orlando have been unable to collect thousands of dollars in state and federal unemployment benefits leaving many on the verge of lost homes and vehicles according to union management.

Union local 808 Business manager Robert “Bobby” Knost said 75% of members have been unable to update their accounts leaving many without as much as 6-months to a year in back benefits.

“After January I would say it started crumbling and falling apart,” Knost said, “We don’t usually use unemployment, we work.”

Knost a union veteran of 34 years, presented a list of 25 names to News 6, some of the hardest hit during the pandemic slow down.

The iron-steel construction industry has been hit by a materials shortage over the last year and, according to Knost, many projects have been delayed into the early part of 2022.

Amzad Khan a 15-year union member said he is still owed $3,000 from his last unemployment filing.

“I have three kids, I need the money I have to pay bills,” Khan said.

Tim Seibert, a 20-year union member said the financial stress has been harder for him because he cares for his elderly parents.

“Where is all the money? " Seibert yelled. “The federal government made the funds available to keep the system running and now you can’t even get the money.”

Department of Economic Opportunity Communications Director Emilie Oglesby said there has been an “influx” in demand for updated benefits accounts.

According to Oglesby, if claimants are eligible to receive benefits “they will receive what they are owed.”

Claimants who need additional weeks made available should submit an inquiry in the Reemployment Assistance Help Center.

On Monday the first member on the Union’s list, Thomas Blabley, called to confirm the DEO paid him all of his back benefits.

In an email to News 6 Knost wrote in part: “He asked me to make sure to thank you and how much that money was going to help. Thank you so much.”

Because each case is different the union accounts will take about one week or more to update.

If you have an unemployment issue email makeendsmeet@wkmg.com or text the words Make Ends Meet to 407-676-7428.

About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.