Our Voices

Giving a voice to unemployed workers and their stories, we cut through the silence and invisibility that obscures the personal realities of today’s unemployment crisis.

“Unemployment has been hard on our family, as it is for everyone. Unemployment Insurance benefits have kept us going. ”

Our Voices, Our Stories

Vera Volk, 53, of Lynn, Massachusetts, writes of being laid off from her biotech research job in May 2013, and struggling to find work in the face of the looming cutoff of federal unemployment insurance.

My name is Vera Volk. I am from Lynn, Massachusetts.  I have earned a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology and a Master’s in Immunology.  I am a 20 year biotech / pharma professional who has had more than a dozen positions in several business functions within academia and industry. Most recently, I invested four years with a small biotech firm performing critical cancer diagnostic research and test development. I was laid off at the end of May 2013 due to research financing issues, which have been further complicated by the federal budget sequestration.

I am deeply engaged in daily job searching, spending at least eight hours a day scanning numerous job and company websites; tailoring my applications and resumes to each specific posting. I have sent in more than 80 applications and posted at least 50 resumes online. I am applying for jobs at all levels, including entry-level positions. I am actively engaged WIND networking group consisting of technical professionals. I have attended their job search workshops and pursued many job postings. As the seventh month of my job search begins, I continue looking for employment in biotech/pharma. I am also applying for seasonal and part time employment in retail and service industries.

My husband is self-employed in business consulting and IT. His business is struggling mightily right now and we do not have any appreciable income from his work because he has been unemployed since Mid-June. Even if he were to close down the business, he would not be eligible to collect unemployment while looking for a new job because he would still be considered self-employed by the Commonwealth of MA.

My weekly state benefit is approximately $415 a week. It has helped keep a roof over our heads, but we have had to cut back on basic food and medical expenses – which has exacerbated my food allergies thus worsening my Crohn’s disease.  I am literally worried sick; my nights are filled with fears, tears and little sleep.  If federal EUC shuts down, most likely our home will be placed in foreclosure and our cars repossessed.  We are also in need food, heating, and medical assistance.

With my regular state benefits ending the first week of December 2013, I will join the 1.3 million Americans currently receiving federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation. If this Congress fails to act to renew the federal EUC program for 2014, we face the cut-off of those EUC benefits just three days after Christmas. I don’t know what this would do to my health, for our health.

To face these prospects at the age of 53, with a lifetime of education and experience behind me, is shocking me – and should be a call to action to the Members of this Congress. The very least this Congress can do … must do is invest in America by renewing the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program for 2014.

Lifeline: Unemployed workers tell their stories


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Jobless, Not Speechless: Just One of Millions


Fight for the Jobless at Unemployedworkers.org


Worker Stories

December 24, 2013

Vera Volk of Lynn, Massachusetts

Vera Volk, 53, of Lynn, Massachusetts, writes of being laid off from her biotech research job in May 2013, and struggling to find work in the face of the looming cutoff of federal unemployment insurance.

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November 14, 2012

Richard Crowe of Wintersville, Ohio

Richard Crowe of Wintersville, Ohio, worked for the same steel company for 34 years, before being laid off in May of 2012 when his plant was sold to a scrapping firm.  Now he's facing the loss of federal unemployment insurance at the end of December if Congress fails to renew the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program for  2013.

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August 2, 2012

Karen from Florida

Karen from Florida writes of her job-search struggles while a cut-off of unemployment insurance due to reductions in available benefit weeks in her state looms.

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January 27, 2012

Peggy from Montana

Peggy from Montana writes about being laid off last summer, and that without Congressional action to fully renew Unemployment Insurance through 2012 she'd likely lose her home.

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November 16, 2011

Juli from Wisconsin

Juli from Wisconsin, laid off in April 2011 when her employer relocated the business to another state after a company buyout, writes that she now faces a cut-off of unemployment insurance if Congress fails to renew the federal extensions for 2012.

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October 4, 2011

Terry P. from Buffalo, NY

Terry P. from Buffalo, New York, writes of the frustration of being excluded from consideration for a job due to the duration of unemployment.

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Read More Worker Stories