I-Team: NBC 10 viewer receives apology letter from DLT

At least one unemployed RhodeIsland worker told the I-Team he received a letter of apology from the RhodeIsland Department of Labor and Training, after an exclusive NBC 10investigation found many people left hanging by the state agency.

Dozens of people have calledand e-mailed the I-Team, saying they had waited weeks or even months for theirunemployment benefits.

Dan D'Alessio said the responsewasn't the one he was expecting.

The letter's message was,"We're sorry for your inconvenience. We've hired more people. Thingsshould be getting better."

The letter D'Alessio receivedwas signed by Robert Langlais, assistant director of the Rhode IslandDepartment of Labor and Training. It begins, "We are sorry to hear thatyou had trouble with your recent claim." The letter continued, "DirectorFogarty has been especially concerned with improving customer service to ourunemployed workers."

Director Charlie Fogarty satdown with I-Team, after NBC 10 contacted him to ask about complaints fromviewers.

"If you're someone who'sin a tough situation, and you're trying to call in, we understand thedesperation," Fogarty said. "We're doing our best to deal withthose issues."

D'Alessio said he received theletter at his home in North Providence, after more than a month withoutunemployment checks. He said he tried contacting the DLT by phone and email, tono avail.

"I called 70 times in arow, three days in a row. Nothing," he said.

The DLT wouldn't give NBC 10numbers on how many other people received their own letters. A departmentspokesperson said D'Alessio's letter represents his unique experience. But the I-Team heard the same story from viewers over and over, including somewho came to our studio.

"I have called to thepoint where the minutes on my cell phone went over, and I still have not gottenthrough to a human," said Karen Ingraham, one of the eight peopleinterviewed by NBC 10.

Three people in NBC 10'soriginal story are now receiving payments. Four others are either stillwaiting, or gave up. One man, Tom Gibbons of Woonsocket, said his checkswere coming through until he ran into more problems this week.

"People who areunemployed, that are in this situation, are not at their best. They'relooking for help and they're looking for support," Gibbons said.

D'Alessio said his missing moneyfinally came through, around the same time as the apology letter.

"They could be working onother things," D'Alessio said. "There's a lot of things moreimportant."

The state took action thismonth by rehiring another 11 workers who were laid off last year.

The department said they wouldhelp handle the overwhelming call volume. NBC 10 will continue to checkback in the next few months to see if the problems have improved.