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Exploiting the unemployment market

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opinion Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
(218) 333-9819 customer support
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Yes, jobs are hard to come by these days, but don't despair. There's a company that's hiring -- if you can stomach the work.

It's the Talx Corporation, and what it does is to help major outfits (from AT&T to Walmart) prevent their fired employees from getting unemployment benefits. Sound like fun?

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You see, when a corporation's former workers are denied jobless benefits, the corporation pays less in taxes to our nation's unemployment fund. However, denying benefits is a messy process, and it's not a plus for the corporate image. So -- viola -- Talx comes in to do the dirty chore.

Talx has become notorious in state unemployment offices across the country, for it routinely flings tons of paper at the process in order to clog and game it, thus denying or stalling benefits that laid-off people are due. Stalling a case is often enough, for many jobless folks don't have the resources or time to battle a deep-pocket opponent like Talx, so they give up.

Lying seems to be another Talx weapon. A recent New York Times report cites several examples, including the case of a mentally disabled man fired from his job as a night janitor in a New Hampshire Walmart. Talx stalled for three months before the fellow could even get a hearing. The hearing officer granted benefits to the jobless janitor, but Talx appealed, claiming that Walmart had requested to testify by phone but was not allowed to. There was, however, no such request. Finally, the janitor won the appeal -- but, thanks to Talx's stalling, he had no money for rent and lost his apartment. "That was a nightmare," he says of his experience.

Talx officials say the company improves the "efficiency" of the unemployment system. Actually, it doesn't. What Talx does is even worse: It strips human decency from the system.

Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He's also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.

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Pioneer staff reports
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