‘Walk In My Shoes’ Day of Action: Congress Must Act to Support Jobless Americans


USAction,  the National Employment Law Project and the AFL-CIO have announced a national day of action for Friday, February 10th, in support of the millions of Americans who face an end-of-month cut-off of federal unemployment insurance and stark new barriers to the program if highly restrictive proposals in Congress are allowed to pass.

The two-month extension of the federal payroll tax and unemployment insurance programs passed in December expires at the end of February.  If Congress fails to act before then, more than one million out-of-work Americans will be cut from unemployment insurance in March, and more than 3.3 million by June 1st, which could undermine recent job gains and jeopardize the fragile economic recovery.  In addition, some lawmakers have proposed erecting onerous barriers to unemployment insurance, including mandatory drug testing and GED requirements, which would unfairly stigmatize job-seekers.

In cities and towns across the country, unemployed workers and supporters will rally at local Congressional offices to tell Congress to act now:  Fully Renew Unemployment Insurance - No Cuts, No Barriers to Benefits.

To find a local action click here -- and find more events here.  You can also send a message to Congress here and call your Members of Congress toll-free at 1-888-245-3381 or use this click-to-call page to connect by phone with your U.S. Representative and Senators.

“Americans have lost their jobs and their homes and now some in Congress would steal their unemployment insurance,” said Alan Charney, USAction director of strategic planning and policy. “What’s worse, some in Congress would treat jobless Americans as criminals by making them submit to mandatory drug testing and jump through other hoops simply to gain access to an insurance program many have paid into for decades. It’s outrageous that we would treat our fellow Americans like this. So we’re asking Congress: walk in our shoes – and don’t take away our insurance.”

Some examples of events taking place in the states:

In Columbus, Progress Ohio will erect a stand and dangle shoes from it in front of Sen. Bob Portman’s district office.

In Concord, New Hampshire Citizen Alliance for Action will create an obstacle course using hula hoops to symbolize the “hoops” conservatives in Congress want to force jobless Americans to jump through.

In Newtown, PA, Penn Action is collecting stories from unemployed workers, wrapping them in red tape and delivering them to Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick.

“Millions of unemployed workers are once again at risk of losing federal unemployment insurance.  And some in Congress are proposing changes to the unemployment insurance system – like GED preconditions and drug testing – that would only stigmatize the unemployed and create needless hurdles for them as they look for work.  Congress needs to do what’s right for unemployed workers and their families and our nation’s economy – renew federal unemployment insurance, without needless and stigmatizing conditions, through 2012,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project.

“Too often we get caught up in the policy debate in Washington and we forget what really matters,” said AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker.  “And what matters is that these are real lives that we are talking about - and these policies have real repercussions.  We're calling on Congress to do the right thing - and extend unemployment benefits with no strings attached and to get back to doing the people's work by creating jobs for the 21st century.”

“Rather than play politics with the lives of millions of working people and their families, lawmakers should pass a full extension of unemployment insurance without restrictions or delay,” said Working America Executive Director Karen Nussbaum. "It is a modest measure to keep families above water during an economic collapse not of their making, and it is good economic policy. We hope Congress acts quickly and does the right thing."

You can help spread the word on social media by using the share buttons at the top of this post, and take these actions on your Facebook and Twitter pages:

On Facebook copy and paste each of these in your status:

Tell Congress: 'Walk In My Shoes!' Find an action in support of unemployed Americans http://local.americawantstowork.org/all/events/upcoming

Call Congress 888-245-3381 Fully Renew Unemployment Insurance - No Cuts, No Barriers to Benefits http://www.nelp.org/page/content/click_to_call_renew_ui_2012/

On Twitter copy and paste these tweets:

Tell Congress: Fully Renew Unemployment Insurance! http://bit.ly/vz5mLO Find a 'Walk in My Shoes' Action http://bit.ly/AuerZr #extendUI

Call Congress! Fully Renew Unemployment Insurance! 888-245-3381 http://bit.ly/und3IR Find an Action today http://bit.ly/AuerZr #extendUI


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