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Potlucks and protests: jobless workers organize

Unemployed workers can find support in their struggle to survive – and organization to promote action on jobs policies – at a potluck and workshop tomorrow night sponsored by Northside Action for Justice and the Unemployed Workers Council of Chicago Jobs With Justice.

And on Friday, the unemployed council will lead an emergency action in Chicago’s financial district, protesting Congress recessing without acting to save jobs.

Tomorrow’s potluck (food contributions optional) will feature the Worker Assistance Program of the Chicago Federation of Labor, which connects laid-off workers with local businesses.  It starts at 5:30 p.m. (Wednesday, August 4) at Edgewater Presbyterian Church, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr.

It’s the first of a series of potlucks and workshops planned for the Chicago area, said Susan Hurley of Chicago JWJ.  One goal is to make sure that jobs and unemployment get the attention they deserve in upcoming elections.

“This needs to be the number one priority of every elected official,” she said.  “We need a lot more action than we’ve been getting.”

On Friday (August 6, 11 a.m.) at LaSalle and Jackson, a broad coalition of labor, faith, peace, community and suburban groups will hear laid-off workers tell their stories,  followed by an “emergency action” at LaSalle Street banks.

An eight-month battle to win congressional approval for extended unemployment benefits – and comments by politicians suggesting the jobless are lazy – has angered many who have lost their jobs in the recession, the Washington Independent reports.

Now Congress is stalling passage of a $26 billion measure to provide aid to states that proponents say would prevent the loss of a half million or more jobs.

Among measures needing congressional attention is renewal of federal stimulus funds backing Put Illinois to Work, which employs 22,000 low-income parents, Hurley said.  Funding is now set to expire on October 1, she said.

Beyond short-term remedies, JWJ is pushing for a federal jobs policy, paid for by a tax on financial speculation.

“We’ve lost a lot of good manufacturing jobs, and they’re not coming back without direct intervention and investment, and that is exactly what the federal government should be doing,” Hurley said.

Currently nearly 15 million people are listed as officially unemployed; some 30 million have been laid off for some period of the recession.  Long-term unemployment rates are at levels not seen since the Great Depression.

The New York Times reports that nearly half of those currently unemployed have been out of work for 27 weeks or more, and 1.4 million have been out of work over 99 weeks, exhausting their benefits.

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Category: employment, jobs, labor

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One Response

  1. Susan Hurley says:

    Great story-thanks Curtis!

    =)

    Susan


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