MUSKEGON, Mich. — A Muskegon-area man is still fighting with unemployment after his company permanently laid him off.
Now he’s wondering why the state unemployment agency is sending him bills in the mail.
“They didn’t actually say it but it would’ve turned out the same way. They were going to permanently lay me off,” said Danny Maturen.
He spent more than 30 years of his life working for Johnston Boiler in Ferrysburg. He started in sheet metal and ended up in final assembly where he tested the boilers before they left the factory.
“I kept telling him that his loyalty was all for nothing,” said wife Rosemary. “He kept saying, ‘no, no, no they wouldn’t do this to me. They wouldn’t do this to me.' And now here we are $6,100 in debt and they did do it to us.”
In April of 2020, the company laid people off due to COVID-19. Danny ended up filing for unemployment and then got called into the office in June.
“They called me down and said they was downsizing and they’re gonna retire me,” he said.
The 67-year-old felt forced to sign the retirement papers. He liked his job and wanted to stay, but felt there was no other option.
“No, I didn’t actually want to sign the papers,” he said, “but I knew if I didn’t, they’d find a way to – they would just not call me back to work – they would’ve just left me laid off.”
After I emailed the president of the company, he told me that Danny had been permanently laid off along with several other associates due to the pandemic. And, if he applied for unemployment after the severance period, the company would not contest it.
After he collected benefits for a few months last year, Danny got a bill basically saying he wasn’t supposed to get paid the $6,100 he collected.
“They want me to payback from the 16th of June through the end of July,” he said.
Danny tells me he didn’t get his first severance check until August, meaning he should’ve been qualified for unemployment benefits until that time.
That severance finally ran out in December, so he tried re-instating his unemployment claim. That was denied too and the couple could never get any answers as to why.
“And I can go all day long and never get anybody. Or they’ll say we have a whole bunch of phone calls blah, blah blah, blah please call back later. You can’t get through,” said Rosemary.
Rosemary just had her stomach removed so the family has to deal with those hospital bills plus the $6,100 the UIA says Danny needs to repay.
“I don’t know where to go from here, I’m kinda at my wit's end,” he said.
Danny says he’ll soon have to look for a part-time job.
We did reach out to the UIA about this story and the agency is now looking into his claim.