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Statement by Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale on the Need to Pass the Unemployment Extension

12.14.10

Statement by Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale on the Need to Pass the Unemployment Extension

“Don’t Leave the Jobless Out in the Cold”

At midnight last night, 800,000 unemployed workers lost their unemployment insurance benefits. By the end of December, 2 million are projected to lose their unemployment insurance. Shame on those in Congress who aren’t supporting this emergency lifeline.

Today, more than fifty workers from across Pennsylvania descended on Washington, DC to fight for an emergency extension, joining jobless workers from across the nation at a press conference to tell the stories of their struggles.

Following the press conference, workers set out to lobby their members of Congress. The participants were armed with more than 150,000 petition signatures calling on Congress to maintain unemployment insurance. The petition signatures supported their call for an immediate, one-year UI extension that would prevent 2 million jobless workers from losing their lifeline by the end of this year.

The domino effect of the unemployment insurance expiration will affect more than just the families of the unemployed. When jobless families are unable to pay their mortgage, buy groceries or generate tax revenue, local communities, businesses and governments all suffer. The expiration of unemployment insurance benefits slows our economy down when we need to speed it up.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and working families are calling on Congress to approve a one year emergency extension of unemployment insurance. Never before has Congress allowed unemployment insurance to expire when so many people are looking for work but unable to find jobs. There are five job seekers for every job opening, and the percentage of people unemployed for longer than six months is the highest on record. But instead of focusing on working families, the newly-elected GOP Congress is pushing to pass tax cuts for millionaires by extending the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250,000.

Representatives Thompson, Shuster and Pitts were wrong to vote no and help Republicans block extending unemployment benefits to workers on the wrong end of this troubled economy. They must rethink their “just say no” mentality and not leave Pennsylvania’s workers in the cold this December. Common decency and common sense require them to act to keep our communities and jobless families afloat and support a one year emergency extension of unemployment insurance.

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