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Wisconsin Spotlight | July 27, 2020

MADISON — The private sector again is helping out where government has failed. 

Nathan Conner, who has been stuck in the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Unemployment Insurance swamp for four months, tells Wisconsin Spotlight that he has been offered a job in southeast Wisconsin. 

Wisconsin Spotlight featured the 44-year-old Green Bay man’s rough road to unemployment benefits. He said he and his 6-year-old daughter have been living in a low-cost motel as his savings runs out. The next stop appeared to be a homeless shelter. 

Conner is among tens of thousands of out-of-work Wisconsinites still waiting for their unemployment benefits from DWD. He has spent weeks at a time hearing nothing at all from the overmatched agency. He’s been rejected by a rude adjudicator, only to be told that his claim was mistakenly denied. 

And when, finally, the manufacturing plant where he had been employed called him back to work, Conner was sent home after just three hours on the line because the factory was worried about local stringent social-distancing regulations.  

Now, things appear to be turning around, for the dad, no thanks to the troubled government agency.  

“I still haven’t heard from the dwd,” he wrote in an email Monday. “However, I was offered a really good paying job in the Milwaukee/Sussex area. I have tentatively accepted the position. My start date isn’t until mid August. But Thank God I have secured gainful employment.”

After months of waiting and broken promises from bureaucrats, he said his claim for federal unemployment assistance was rejected earlier this month by a rude adjudicator who cut him off when it was quitting time. 

“She said, ‘Oh, it’s 6 o’clock. We have to wrap this up. I have to start my weekend,’ Conner said. 

On July 9, Conner received a call from a DWD representative telling him that he was “wrongly denied.”

“He said, ‘We’re going to put you in the computer and we’re going to have to review that decision. The bad news is you’re going to go into adjudication again and we don’t know for how long,’” Conner said. 

As Wisconsin Spotlight reported, Conner has had some run-ins with the law in his past. He said all that changed when his daughter came into the world. 

“That person I was before, all that left, especially after my daughter was born.” He has no active criminal cases filed against him, according to online court documents. 

“This is a country of second chances,” he said. 

Some very kind Wisconsin Spotlight readers who read about Conner’s struggles reached out and asked how they could help. One suggested setting up a GoFundMe page for the out-of-work dad and his daughter. 

“I am a very proud person and I’ve always been able to provide for my daughter and I without any charity. I prayed about this all weekend. And I got the job offer this morning,” Conner said. “So I’ve begrudgingly set my personal pride aside and set up a GoFundMe account … I have a great opportunity in front me but I have to relocate to take advantage of it. Which is difficult to say the least because we’re barely making it here.”

He said he also was contacted by a landlord who said he was willing to work with Conner, given his financial situation. 

“I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel,” Conner said. 

Read Conner’s GoFundMe page here.

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