For a few months, I’ve been following the efforts of the unemployed — specifically the long-term unemployed, and especially the 99ers, who have exhausted the maximum weeks of federal and state unemployment benefits — to unionize online. The idea is that the 6.6 million Americans who have been out of work for more than six months have a strong, common political interest: keeping the safety net intact through the end of the labor-market crisis following the recession. But the unemployed tend to be politically disenfranchised.
Now, various groups, union-affiliated and independent, have formed a banner organization to coordinate. Here’s part of the press release:
In a show of unity, the various 99er Advocacy groups have coalesced into one large united force to lobby Washington for the Tier 5 Americans Want to Work Act. The Umbrella group will be known as The American 99ers’ Union http://www.american99ersunion.com
The 99er Nation has, for the most part, been without their lifeline Unemployment Insurance payments for nearly 8 months. It is no coincidence that the American economy began to slip backward into double dip recession territory just weeks after the 99ers were cut off from their Unemployment Insurance. Millions of Americans unable to participate in our “consumer based” economy cannot help but make a negative impact on the fragile recovery.
The macroeconomic benefits to the entire American economy, with passage of this Tier 5 bill is staggering and would bring about immediate results. EXAMPLE: 5 million Americans who have exhausted UI benefits X $300.00 (average weekly benefit) would inject at least 1.5 billion dollars directly into the economy every week. Based upon the law of ‘Supply & Demand’, through the purchase of goods and services, S3706 would provide the demand required to keep the recovery going in the right direction, prevent further layoffs and stimulate the creation of jobs within the individual communities throughout America.
This coalition consists of (in alphabetical order):
Advocacy For the Long Term Unemployed (AFLTU)
Extend Unemployment Benefits
Now: Jobless / Next: Homeless
Tier 5 Unemployment Extension Needed
Tier 5 To Survive Unemployed Unite
The Unemployment Examiner
U-Cubed? (Union for the Unemployed)
Unemployed States Of America
Unemployed Workers Action Group (UWAG)
“Our coalition under the banner of The American 99ers’ Union, has decided that the best way to convince the Senate to vote The Americans Want To Work Act into law is to ask all of our members to Take Action on Wednesday, September 22, 2010.”
Unfortunately, the Americans Want to Work Act and other bills that might benefit the 99ers are stuck in the Senate and unlikely to pass anytime soon. However, with the unemployment rate forecast to rise through the fall, Congress is likely to try to re-up federally extended unemployment benefits, due to start expiring Nov. 30. In July, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs indicated the administration would push for continued federal extensions — providing up to 99 weeks of benefits — until the unemployment rate drops below 9 or 8.5 percent.
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