Laid Off, Left Out: UW.org Fights For Extended Benefits For America’s Working Families
September 30, 2010: Stabenow Bill for 'Tier V' Blocked in the Senate
Last night Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) tried to bring up her bill in the Senate to extend unemployment insurance in some states for those exhausting their full benefits eligibility, but the move was blocked by a single Republican objection.
The Michigan Senator attempted to bring her 'Tier V' bill up by a unanimous consent request. If there were no Senators objecting, the bill could have advanced to a debate and subsequent vote. But under Senate rules, a single Senator can block that motion by objecting to the request. And retiring Senator George LeMieux (R-FL) did just that.
While we are disappointed with that outcome, we commend Senator Stabenow for her efforts to advocate for the '99ers' and all unemployed workers struggling to find jobs in this terribly difficult economy. With nearly half of all jobless workers out of work for six months or more, those burdened by such long-term unemployment continue to need help while they look for jobs that are scarce. Those who have or will be exhausting their benefits are not and willl not be forgotten as we continue to fight on for those most in need.
The Huffington Post reports: 99ers Legislation Blocked in Senate
September 14, 2010: Top Priorities for Congressional Action
Congress gets back to business this week for a short period, until October 10th at the latest, but likely much earlier than that, before taking off again for the elections. They will reconvene for the week of November 15th, and then again on November 29th until their business for the year is completed. In order to make sure that Congress knows that its business is NOT completed until it takes care of the long-term unemployed, we are writing to update you about several key priorities that require immediate Congressional action.
Fund Subsidized Jobs: On September 30th, over 250,000 subsidized jobs created with funding provided by the Recovery Act will come to an end unless Congress reauthorizes the $2.5 billion program. In several states, these jobs are targeting large numbers of the long-term jobless. On September 15th, there will be a Jobs Emergency National Day of Action, with actions in Washington, D.C., and around the national in support of the "TANF Emergency Fund" program and other job creation priorities. The House of Representatives has twice supported another year of funding for the program, so it's up to the Senate to immediately pass legislation keeping the highly successful program going. Please contact your Senators to ensure they strongly support the TANF Emergency Fund and take part in the National Day of Action at an event near you.
In addition, anyone wishing to sign a petition in support of this TANF Emergency Fund, please click the following link: http://www.philaup.org/TANF/index.php. Please also share this with any businesses you know who might like to support the reauthorization of this fund.
Expand and Extend Jobless Benefits: In August, Senator Stabenow introduced the Americans Want to Work Act (S. 3706), which would provided another 20 weeks of benefits to workers who have reached the end of their federally-funded jobless benefits. A companion bill was introduced by Congresswoman Berkley (H.R. 6091). S. 3706 has 11 co-sponsors, thus it's critical to generate additional bi-partisan support in the Senate for this legislation. For more information about the efforts to fight for additional weeks of unemployment benefits, please check out Unemployed Friends, and/or the Unemployed Workers Action Group.
In addition, after the elections, there will only be 4 work weeks at most for Congress to continue the latest extension of standard maximum 73 weeks of federally funded benefits. The reauthorization debate will heat up after the elections, but given the nasty tone of the last extension fight, it's critical to start making the case NOW that the extension, in its entirety, should be reauthorized.
Ban Credit Checks: Another issue that is likely of interest to many of you involved banning credit checks for employment. The use of these checks has grown substantially during this recession, which presents large numbers of unemployed workers -- especially those who have been hardest hit by long-term joblessness - with even more obstacles to finding work. The Equal Employment for All Act (H.R. 3149), sponsored by Congressman Steve Cohen (TN) and 55 additional members of the House of Representatives, would go a long way to limit credit checks for employment. Activists are urging Congressman Barney Frank of the Banking Committee to move the legislation. Click here for more details on the bill and to take action in support of the legislation (www.creditcatch22.org).
ACT NOW: As we learned in June and July during the ugly debate to reauthorize the extension of benefits, it's getting even harder to pass legislation addressing the desperate needs of today's jobless workers and their families. With the short amount of time that Congress remains in session this year, it will be that much more challenging to find the room for rational debate and consensus that it takes to move Congress to act on major priorities. So, it's more critical now than ever that we raise our voices loud and clear take the initiative back on these and other critical priorities for jobless workers and their families.
September 12, 2010
On September 15th, 2010, Jobs with Justice (a national organization that fights for economic justice in workplaces and communities) will be holding a National Emergency Jobs Days of Action with a demand for government action to create jobs for the unemployed and to spur the recovery. Click here to find an action in a community near you.
September 7, 2010
As most of you know all too well, employers are increasingly using credit reports in making their hiring decisions. Especially in today’s struggling economy, where more and more workers find themselves unemployed for prolonged periods of time, the use of credit reports is having a devastating impact on the job prospects of millions of workers.
You can help push back on this disturbing screening practice by generating support for the Equal Employment for All Act (H.R. 3149), which is sponsored by Congressmen Cohen (D-TN) and Gutierrez (D-IL). H.R. 3149 prohibits the use of credit information – including a person’s creditworthiness, credit standing or credit capacity – for most employment purposes (H.R. 3149 is available here).
The union UNITE HERE has been actively organizing for passage of H.R. 3149 and similar state legislation with the help of a campaign website that links to valuable resources and a Congressional action alert: http://www.creditcatch22.org/. Please take a moment to link to the website and let your Congressman know you strongly support the legislation. Click here to read Congressman Gutierrez’s Huffington Post piece in support of the bill, and click here to read the press coverage on the recent Illinois town hall meeting on the bill. As Congress returns from the Labor Day break, activists are urging Congressman Barney Frank to mark-up the bill in the Banking Committee as soon as possible.
In the last year, several states have passed laws limiting the use of credit checks for employment screening purposes, including Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and most recently Illinois. (Click here for a video of the hearing on the Oregon legislation). In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed litigation against a credit check firm arguing that the policy violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because of the “disparate impact” of credit checks on workers of color. (Click here for more details on the state legislation and the civil rights litigation).
Please be sure to lend your voice to this critical campaign and keep us posted on your progress. Thank you!
August 11, 2010 Update
Friends, Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV), introduced legislation that would create a 20-week Tier V for states with an unemployment rate of 10% or higher. http://berkley.house.gov/2010/08/new-berkley-bill-extends-unemployment-help-to-nevadans-who-have-exhausted-benefits.shtml. This differs from the Senate bill that would create a Tier V for states with rates of 7.5% or higher. While there are differences in these two approaches, the good news is that there is now Tier V legislation pending in both Houses of Congress. We will keep you posted on any further progress of these pieces of legislation.
August 4, 2010: Americans Want to Work Act proposes Tier 5 EUC benefits
We have some news to share with you that many of you have been waiting for. Today, Senator Stabenow, along with Senators Schumer, Casey, Levin, Brown (OH), Reed, Dodd, Durbin, Reid, and Whitehouse, introduced The Americans Want to Work Act (S. 3706). This bill is an important step in terms of supporting people who have exhausted their federal unemployment benefits while simultaneously keeping the focus on job creation and getting people back to work. We commend Senator Stabenow and her co-sponsors for thinking about ways to target hiring to exhaustees, and for giving voice to the longest of the long-term unemployed.
This bill, if enacted, would do three things:
Create a Tier 5 of Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) – states where the unemployment rate is 7.5% or higher will be eligible for 20 additional weeks of EUC.
Extend the HIRE Act through the end of 2011. Right now, this Act provides incentives to employers to hire workers who have been unemployed for more than 2 months in the forms of no FICA taxes and a $1000 tax credit for every eligible worker who remains employed for 52 weeks. This Act expires at the end of 2010.
Double the $1000 tax credit to $2000 for employers who hire workers who are either eligible for Tier 5 or who have exhausted all federal unemployment benefits to which they are entitled.
As the bill comes on line, and as we learn any more information about the next steps to move the bill in Congress, we’ll be sure to post it right away.
July 25, 2010: Thanks to workers who shared their stories
Many unemployedworkers.org members volunteered to share their stories as part of our campaign to restore jobless benefits. These stories, highlighted on a daily basis after benefits were cut off, had a major impact on leaders in Washington and in the media. It takes tremendous courage to share your story, and we are grateful for your help. To read all the stories, click here.
July 22, 2010: Congress Reauthorizes Federal UI Benefits
At long last, Congress has reauthorized federal jobless benefits, reinstating the Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits programs through November 2010. This is good news for the 2.5 million people who have been cut off from their federal benefits since Congress allowed the program to lapse in the beginning of June, and for the millions more who are currently relying on the extensions. NELP will be posting more information on the extensions as we receive it, and please check our Ask the Expert page in the next day or two for updated information. In the meantime, we'd also like to extend our sincerest thanks to all of you who continued to take persistent action and demand that Congress keep the programs in place; tens of thousands of emails were sent from unemployedworkers.org from you, which has made all the difference in getting these extensions passed.
NELP's statement on the extensions can be found here.
July 21, 2010 Update
It’s been a whirlwind week for Jim Chukalas, a laid-off parts manager from a New Jersey auto dealership. This past Monday, Jim and two other jobless workers stood beside President Obama in the White House rose garden as the president called on Congress to take an up-or-down vote on extending unemployment benefits and to put an end to political maneuvering that leaves Americans in need of assistance in limbo. Soon after the rose garden press conference, Jim made an appearance on Countdown with Keith Olbermann to share his story…
July 20, 2010 Update
Friends – finally, some truly good news. The Senate just mustered 60 votes to move forward on the unemployment extension bill. All Democrats except for Ben Nelson (NE) voted yes, and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both from Maine, crossed party lines and also voted yes. West Virginia’s newest Senator, Carte Goodwin, was sworn in at about 2:20 and soon thereafter cast his first vote in favor of the UI extensions to much applause from his new colleagues.
The Senate will likely take a final vote on this bill sometime tonight, the House is poised to pass it tomorrow, and the President will sign it right away.
The state agencies that administer the unemployment programs are already working to get the benefits back up and running. Unfortunately, you need to know that it’s going to take most states about 2-4 weeks to get benefit payments started again, although some may be faster, particularly those that have been having workers whose benefits lapsed continue to certify their availability for work and the fact that they were looking for work.
Rather than calling your state agencies, we recommend that you check their websites frequently for information. And they will be in touch with you if you need to do ANYTHING at all to get your benefits back up and running. But the administrative burden on them right now is going to be really substantial, and if there is a huge flood of calls coming in, it could only delay payments for everyone, so if at all possible, try to hold off from calling them unless absolutely necessary.
We will continue to post updates and if appropriate, Frequently Asked Question sheets for you, so check back often.
July 16, 2010 Update
Friends – just a quick note to confirm that the Senate will take a cloture vote at 2:30 pm on Tuesday on the UI bill. We anticipate that it will finally garner the 60 votes it needs to proceed to a final vote and be sent to the House of Representatives who will take it up very quickly. Please make your calls and let your Senators and Representatives know that you can’t wait any longer!
July 15, 2010 Update
We have tentative good news. All reports indicate that by close of business tomorrow, West Virginia’s governor will appoint someone to take the place of Senator Robert Byrd, and that person will be sworn in as a Senator next Tuesday afternoon. Immediately after that swearing-in, the Senate plans to vote again on extending Emergency Unemployment Compensation and full federal funding of Extended Benefits through the end of November 2010, and we expect we will finally have the 60 votes needed to proceed to a final vote on the bill. The House can quickly take up the Senate version, and hopefully, well before the end of next week, the President can sign the bill into law and the programs will be retroactively reinstated.
We need your help for one last push. Between now and next Tuesday, it is imperative that you keep calling and emailing both your Senators and Representatives to let them know how important it is that they vote yes on this bill. We need to hold all the votes together and get this done!
We’ll set up a link shortly that you can use for emailing, but you can also call the Congressional Switchboards, (202) 224-3121 for the Senate, and (202) 225-3121 for the House, and ask for your members’ offices.
Thanks for all you dogged determination to see this through. We hope that for those of you who will be getting benefits restored that it provides a measure of comfort, no matter how temporary.
July 7th Update: Tell Your Senators and Congressman to Vote for Extended Jobless Benefits and Health Care Subsidies for the Unemployed
Another month of severe unemployment, another Congressional break without an extension of unemployment benefits - sound familiar? Well, this time, enough is enough.
There’s no holiday vacation celebrating this week for the over two million workers left jobless in this devastating job market without a federal extension of unemployment benefits. When back home for the holiday, those who voted against the extension in both the Senate and House of Representatives should hear their voices loud and clear when the elected officials attend their barbeques, their parades and fireworks displays, their town hall meetings, and their local call-in radio shows.
The message is short and sweet, especially when delivered by those who are suffering the daily hardships of unemployment, their families, their friends and their neighbors – “Senators and Congressman, get your priorities right and pass the extension of unemployment benefits and resume the COBRA health care subsidies for the unemployed. Don’t Cut-Off America, Save the Recovery!”
Get out there to their events, call-in to their offices, ask for a meeting, reach out to your local press. Make sure those elected officials who voted against the extension and health care benefits for the unemployed put a face to the cause of the unemployment crisis so they think twice before voting against the unemployed again.
To help, here is a chart of Representatives and Senators who voted against the extension before leaving town for the holidays. And here are the figures for your state showing the number of workers who are prematurely being denied federal jobless benefits this week and next. Finally, click here to access the phone number for your Senators and Congressmen back home, which may also help you determine their schedules. You can also use our action alert and send an email to your representatives.
Please do what you can this week and let your Senators and Congressmen who voted against the extension know that real hard-working people with families are paying close attention to what’s happening way back in Washington, D.C., and that your votes count.
Thank you, and please keep us posted on your progress.
July 2, 2010 Update
The cut-off of federal jobless benefits sparked major media attention on Thursday. Watch a CBS evening news piece featuring several unemployedworkers.org members, and listen to an extended interview about the impact of the cut off on National Public Radio's All Things Considered.
July 1, 2010 Update
You have probably read or heard the bad news by now that, yet again, the Senate failed to pass an extension of unemployment benefits. We are heartbroken over this latest failure, and we know how devastated you must be as well. We wish we had the words to convey how sorry we are, and we wish there was something we could say to ease the stress and anxiety we know you are feeling.
But know we are not giving up. As soon as Senator Bryd's replacement is seated, Senate Leadership is committed to bringing the extension to the floor yet again, and we will hold them to that promise. And we will continue to share your stories in the halls of Congress and the media so your needs are not forgotten.
June 29, 2010 Update
Today, Representative McDermott (D-WA) introduced H.R. 5618, The Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act, which will, if passed, restore the EUC and Extended Benefits programs, retroactive to their expiration on June 2, 2010. Here is a link to the bill summary: http://waysandmeans.house.gov/press/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=11236.
The House Leadership tried to move this bill today on what’s called the “Suspension Calendar,” meaning that normal House rules of procedure don’t apply and if 2/3 of the House members vote in favor of a bill, it will pass. Unfortunately, the bill came 16 votes short of the 2/3 majority. We are now pushing Leadership to put the bill through its regular procedures tomorrow, in which case it looks sure to pass and be sent on to the Senate.
Again, we’re asking you to contact your Representatives ASAP – and hopefully tomorrow, our request will be for you to contact your Senators. We have the chance to get this done before the July 4th holiday, but we need your help as constituents to make it happen. The message has to be clear: DON’T GO HOME until this bill is passed. The unemployed don’t get a vacation from having no paychecks, so Congress shouldn’t get a vacation either.
We will update you again as soon as we know anything new.
June 28, 2010 Update
We have NOT given up and we are asking you to keep fighting with us to reauthorize and extend the federal UI programs. Congress goes on recess at the end of this week, but there is time before then for both Houses to pass a stand-alone bill that extends the eligibility deadline for Emergency Unemployment Compensation and the full funding of the Extended Benefits program through the end of November 2010.
We are calling on the House of Representatives to act first, and pass this bill by Wednesday afternoon at the latest, so that the Senate can receive the bill in time to have a final vote before they head into recess on Friday. Time is of the essence and we need all of you to help us make this happen!!! We know you are probably fatigued from all the unsuccessful fights of the last month, but that is exactly what our opponents want – they want you to give up – but we know better. We are all fighters and we must continue to demand that Congress do its job and support those who are unemployed through no fault of their own.
Please share this message with your friends and family and please take action TODAY!
June 27, 2010 update - AP Reports on Possible New Last Ditch Strategy to Save Extended Benefits
On Friday, the Associated Press reported that U.S. House leaders were considering moving a "stand-alone bill shorn of controversial tax and spending provisions that prompted Senate Republicans to filibuster the unemployment aide this week." In other words, this strategy would involve a new bill just focusing on jobless benefits. HR 4213 contained numerous other provisions meant to spur job creation, but the larger package could not move in the Senate. As we get more details, we will update the list.
June 25, 2010 update - Senate Stiffs the Unemployed with Devastating Vote
Dear Friends –
As you probably know, the Senate was unable to break a filibuster on the bill that would have extended unemployment insurance last night. There are no words to tell you how upset and disgusted all of us at NELP are, and we know that you must all feel the same and more. We are so sorry for any continued anguish you are all experiencing and promise you that our fight is not over by any stretch of the imagination.
We are calling on Congress to move a stand-alone UI bill next week with nothing else attached to it to distract from the important message about supporting the unemployed. As discouraged and tired as we know you all are of this, we need you to keep up your energy and keep fighting. Call your Senators and Representatives in their home offices – show up at their offices next Monday and Tuesday if you can – DEMAND that they stand up for the right thing and stand behind the unemployed. Call them even if they voted the right way or the wrong way, you can click here to find out. Call your local media if they are not covering this story – demand that they shine a light on the shameless disregard for the unemployed in the local papers.
It’s not too late to turn this around but we need your help.
As soon as we know anything else, we will be sure to update you.
June 24, 2010 Update and Call to Action
Dear Friends –
A very-wise and colorful man once said, “It ain’t over til it’s over.” Yogi Berra’s words ring true today – the Senate majority leadership is trying for a THIRD time to move the UI extensions along with other important provisions that will save or create jobs. They have cut the bill to the bare bones, hoping to win more Republican colleagues’ votes, but as of now, not a single Republican is willing to vote for the bill, and Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) is also a no vote.
We don’t think this fight is over yet – YOU have voices that need to be heard RIGHT NOW.
As of now, the bill is being held up not because of the overall cost, and not because of the UI extensions, but primarily, because of the desire to continue tax breaks for businesses who use some clever loopholes to avoid paying taxes. There are enough Senators who would cross the aisle and vote for the bill if these loopholes remain in-tact. But why should they? Shouldn’t businesses pay their fair share? Why should we continue to worry about cutting taxes for the well-to-do, but not worry nearly as much about the unemployed in this country?
Right now, we’re struggling to hang onto the current Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program, and the full funding of Extended Benefits (EB). The House cut the COBRA subsidy so anyone who loses their job after June 1, 2010 won’t be able to get it. The Senate has proposed eliminating Federal Additional Compensation (FAC – extra $25 per week). We continue to fight with everything we have to get these back into the bill, but the short-sighted deficit frenzy is eclipsing common sense.
We need YOU to intervene – call 1-202- 224-3121 ASAP and ask to speak to your Senator. Tell his or her staff that the BEST way to solve the deficit problems is to fix the economy. Pass HR 4213, which will help continue to support the unemployed, and save and create jobs. Cutting off the unemployed is NOT the way to solve the deficit problem – indeed, it will only mean that MORE people need public benefits and lose their homes. That just makes no sense AND it is cruel and pointless.
It is especially important for those of you in Maine and Ohio to call your Senators’ offices – calls are even more important than emails. Senator Collins (ME) can be reached at 202-224-2523; Senator Snowe (ME) can be reached at (202) 224-5344; and Senator Voinovich (OH) can be reached at 202-224-3353. These are the three Senators most likely to change their votes and they need to hear from you NOW.
Keep fighting – we’re not giving up and you should not either. Stand up, make your voices heard, and DEMAND that Congress do its job.
Join June 23rd Actions to Demand Aid for the Unemployed…and Jobs (June 21st)
Thousands of jobless Americans have joined our campaign to call for Congress to take aggressive action to aid the unemployed—but they still are not taking action. Here’s your opportunity to bring your frustrations to the streets.
On June 23rd, NELP's partners at Jobs with Justice and the Philadelphia Unemployment Project will be holding protests to demand national action to aid the unemployed. We invite you to join the actions:
Join Unemployed Workers for a Rally and Symbolic Soup Line at City Hall @ Dilworth Plaza on June 23rd
Help us fight for Extended Unemployment Benefits and COBRA subsidies for the jobless!
When: June 23rd from Noon-1:30 PM
Where: Philadelphia’s City Hall- West side @ Dilworth Plaza
Who: Unemployed workers, labor and religious leaders, concerned people
Why: To Fight for Extended Unemployment Compensation, COBRA health care subsidies, and JOBS!
Money for Jobs Not Banks
When: Wednesday, June 23, 5:00pm
Where: Detroit, Michigan, Hart Plaza, (Jefferson & Woodward)
Who: Workers, with and without jobs
Why: To Fight for Jobs and Support for the Unemployed
Urge Your Senators to Take Action THIS WEEK on UI Benefits and COBRA (June 15, 2010)
We've begun another legislative week, and one in which we hope that the Senate will conclude action on HR 4213, the bill that would extend eligibility for the federal unemployment programs (Emergency Unemployment Compensation, Federal Additional Compensation, and full funding of Extended Benefits) through November 2010. This has turned out to be a much harder fight that we anticipated, and it's dragging on longer than we know is ideal for those of you who are seeing the premature end of your benefits.
When the House considered the bill a few weeks ago, out of the need to get the overall price of the bill down so that a majority of Members would vote for it, they stripped out the COBRA subsidy, as well as important money for state Medicaid programs, and scaled back the eligibility for the UI programs from end of December, to end of November. As horrifying as these cuts were, we were lucky to not have lost more - more and more Members are beginning to think that it's time to start scaling back these programs in general, and we are fighting that tooth and nail.
When the bill came to the Senate, the Medicaid money was restored, and we are leading a fight to restore the COBRA subsidy. Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania has been our champion and he is waging a great fight. 24 Senators have agreed to co-sponsor the amendment, and we and a number of other advocates have been working to both gain more co-sponsors and shore up support among the moderate Senators on both sides of the aisle, but we still do not have a clear sense that we can reach the magic 60 votes to get the subsidy restored. But we are not going down without a hard fight because we want to not just protect the subsidy, but make the message loud and clear that it is too soon to be cutting back support for the unemployed.
Yet again, we need you to make your voice heard and contact your Senator telling him or her to vote YES on the COBRA subsidy and even more importantly, to vote YES on HR 4213 and be sure that unemployment benefits stay up and running for the millions of long term unemployed.
Jobs for America Now Action Alert: Tell Congress to Finish the Job on State Aid, Unemployment Insurance and COBRA Health Subsidies NOW (June 14, 2010)
The economic picture for state and local governments could worsen in coming months, teachers across the country are being handed their pink slips working families are struggling and all experts agree that unemployment rates will not dramatically decrease anytime soon. Meanwhile, legislation providing needed assistance is languishing in Congress.
ASK SENATORS TO VOTE FOR THE AMERICAN JOBS AND CLOSING TAX LOOPHOLES ACT IN ORDER TO:
* EXTEND UI/COBRA BENEFITS UNTIL THE END OF THE YEAR.
* EXTEND STATE FISCAL RELIEF (FMAP) FOR ANOTHER SIX MONTHS.
* FUND THE TANF EMERGENCY FUND THROUGH FY 2011.
Click here to take action. The time is NOW!
Urge Senate to Take Action NOW on UI Benefits and COBRA (June 10, 2010)
Amid growing concern around the nation’s deficit, the House of Representatives recently passed a scaled back version H.R. 4213 supporting an extension of federal unemployment benefits and the additional $25 per week in everyone’s benefits check through November 2010. However, the bill does NOT include an extension of COBRA subsidies for jobless workers. We are urging the Senate to take immediate action upon return from recess to restore the entire federal UI extension system through the end of 2010. Click here to contact your Senators today!
A Shocking New Hiring Trend: Unemployed Need NOT Apply (June 4, 2010)
At a time when long-term unemployment is at an all-time high of 46% and Congress continuously fails to renew the federal unemployment insurance programs on a timely basis, it now appears that a growing number of companies and employers are deciding to bar unemployed workers from the job market. Several job listings blatantly refuse to accept applications from individuals who are currently unemployed, regardless of the reason for that unemployment. These types of job postings are particularly disturbing in light of emerging arguments that extending unemployment benefits prolongs the duration of unemployment and the unemployed are only unemployed because they want to be.
Take Action TODAY to Keep Extensions in Place (May 27, 2010)
Friends – we have heard that the House of Representatives will likely take up HR 4213, the bill that will extend the deadline for eligibility for federal UI programs (Emergency Unemployment Compensation, Federal Additional Compensation and full federal funding of Extended Benefits) and the 15-month COBRA subsidy through the end of November 2010, this afternoon. Late yesterday, the bill was pared back in significant respects to make it less expensive. One additional month of the UI and COBRA programs was scaled back, but we are not concerned about that because given this year’s legislative calendar, Congress will likely have to act in November regardless of whether the programs run through November or December.
As of now, the fate of the bill is still in some doubt. In order to pay for some of the bill, Congress is closing certain tax loopholes and businesses and their lobbies are working hard to defeat the bill. There are 25 Representatives who are still undecided and they need to hear from their constituents ASAP. Those 25 members are listed below – if you know one of them is your Representative, please call him or her today. You can use 202-225-3121, which is the House Switchboard, and merely ask for your Member’s office and you’ll be connected right away.
The message is that you need him/her to stand up to business, and do the right thing for real people who need help so desperately. Vote YES on HR 4213 TODAY!
1. Baird 2. Costello 3. Cuellar 4. Dahlkemper 5. Doggett 6. Giffords 7. Heinrich 8. Hill 9. Inslee 10. Kagen 11. Kissell 12. Klein 13. Lipinski 14. Maffei 15. McMahon 16. Michaud 17. Murphy, Chris (CT) 18. Quigley 19. Salazar 20. Schrader 21. Smith 22. Titus 23. Visclosky 24. Walz 25. Welch
Call on Congress to Extend Filing Deadline Before its TOO LATE!
It has been a while since we posted an update. In early April, Congress passed a retroactive 2 month extension of the current federal unemployment insurance programs (Emergency Unemployment Compensation, Federal Additional Compensation ($25 per week supplement), and full federal funding of the Extended Benefits program), as well as a 2 month extension of time to qualify for the COBRA subsidy. As we knew then, the time has passed quickly and once again, Congress is faced with an impending expiration of these programs at the end of this month.
This week, likely on Wednesday, the House of Representatives will take up a bill that will, among other things, extend the Unemployment Insurance and COBRA programs through the end of December 2010. As before, there will be fierce debates about the cost of the bill and the impact on the growing deficit. While these are valid concerns in a general sense, working to reduce the deficit at the expense of the millions of unemployed workers who depend on these extended benefits is both short-sighted and counter-productive. These benefits don't just keep you and your families afloat -- they keep the economies of your communities afloat and ensure that the foreclosure crisis in the country doesn't grow any worse than it already has.
Your Representatives NEED to hear from you -- they need to know that you expect and demand them to do the right thing-- keep these programs up and running through the end of 2010 and stop all the stress and anxiety that the continual stop-gap extensions have created. Use this link to send an email to your Representative, or better yet, pick up the phone and call his or her office, demanding that he or she vote in favor of extending unemployment and COBRA benefits through the end of the year. You can call the Capitol switchboard at (202)224-3121 and they will put you through to the right office.
Your Representatives need to stop wasting time having the same fight month after month, and instead, finish the job now so they can spend the rest of the legislative year trying to enact legislation that will create more jobs, and deal with the crisis facing those who are exhausting or have exhausted all of their benefits.
The message is clear -- pass the bill this week! There is no time to waste and it's no longer acceptable to keep enacting stop-gap measures.
P.S. While we are fighting to keep the current extensions in place, we know that many of you have faced an end of the federal benefits available in your state. With unemployment lasting so long, and job growth only starting to slowly increase, we consider the lack of options regarding a safety net for the long-term unemployed to be an unprecedented crisis which needs immediate solutions. Congress' failure to keep the extensions in place through the end of the year has kept their attention focused on renewing the current provisions every month or so, and has prevented any real discussion about support options for the severely long-term unemployed. We have heard from many of you regarding the difficulties associated with running out of federal extensions, and while this particular effort that we write to you about today is focused on the current provisions already in place, we are committed to push for additional steps that need to be taken to specifically address the crisis long-term unemployment.
NELP’s Position on Aid to Those Exhausting all Federal Extended Benefits (April 28, 2010)
As the recurring fights over reauthorizing the existing Recovery Act’s program of federal aid to jobless workers drag on, we have heard from many who now face, or will soon face, exhaustion of all benefits. We know this is a desperate situation for many, and we are conveying this urgency and fear to members of Congress and the Administration in our continued advocacy for all unemployed workers.
Reauthorizing existing programs through the end of the year is essential: without those programs in place, millions more will be denied any federal safety net at all, the economy will sink farther, and resources and energies will be constantly diverted onto endless fights over piecemeal extensions, rather than any other efforts on behalf of the long-term unemployed. Already, Congress’s periodic failures to extend the program have caused confusion and hardship, jeopardizing benefits for hundreds of thousands of Americans counting on the package of benefits made available by the Recovery Act and subsequent legislation. No one’s interests are served by such piecemeal approaches. And so we are fighting to continue existing programs, while we are also pushing members of Congress and the White House to put in place meaningful programs that will help those hit hardest by the recession, including those unemployed the longest.
What is NELP proposing?
The menu of programs we urge includes job creation targeted to those out of work the longest—because what unemployed workers want most is jobs, and NELP is a key member of the Jobs for America Now Coalition (http://www.jobs4americanow.org/ ) which is leading the fight for emergency job creation for the unemployed. In addition, we are working for mortgage foreclosure assistance; affordable health care; income support; and other assistance. Income support could take many different forms such as additional weeks of unemployment benefits, but would all have the same impact on the long-term unemployed – a continued safety net in this difficult economic period. We are pushing and will continue to push for these things, but we want to be candid with you: This is an uphill struggle —and Congress has to hear from you. NELP and other advocates cannot create the political will for these kinds of support without massive support from the unemployed.
How can you get involved?
Unemployed workers are organizing all over the country to ask Congress not to leave them behind. This type of organizing is essential to build the support needed for action. Many of you have already joined this effort, and your continued advocacy – and advocacy by others -- is critical. We commend the effort that folks like you are doing and we will distribute more resources about the campaigns mentioned above in the coming days.
This is a tough fight, but together with you, NELP will continue to make sure Congress and the White House hear the voices of the unemployed and understand the crisis so many are facing. We cannot promise any specific results, but we can promise that we will keep fighting for ALL unemployed workers.
President Obama Restores Federal Benefits (April 16, 2010)
President Obama signed H.R.4581 into law on Thursday, April 15, just hours after the bill passed through the Senate and the House. The bill provides an extension of current federal UI provisions until June 2, 2010, including federal UI extensions (Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits), COBRA subsidies for jobless workers, and the additional $25 weekly benefit supplement all claimants receive in their UI checks. These provisions will also be made retroactive to April 5, when delays in Congress caused them to expire.
Jobless Benefit Extension Bill Awaits Senate Vote (April 14, 2010)
Last night, the Senate held a cloture vote on the 30 day unemployment insurance/COBRA extension and got the 60 votes needed in order to advance the bill to a final vote. As many of you know, this bill will extend the filing deadline for programs we already have in place (COBRA subsidies, $25 weekly benefit amount, and the current extensions available) for another month while also making these provisions retroactive to the beginning of the month. All Democrats who were present voted in favor of the bill, and Republican Senators Collins (ME), Snowe (ME), Brown (MA), and Voinovich (OH) also voted in favor of the bill. We have heard that there will be a final vote on the bill sometime on Thursday. Once it passes, the President will sign it right away to get the UI program back up and running. The state agencies that handle your checks are watching this closely and will be doing everything they can to get your benefits checks restored and out to you as quickly as possible.
As we learn more, we will continue to update you. Please continue to take action here and call on the Senate to get this bill passed quickly. If you have questions about your benefits or wish to become part of our media efforts on this issue, please also contact us here.
NELP Update on 30-day Extension of Jobless Benefits (March 30, 2010)
We are extremely sorry to have to tell you that Congress has gone into recess without passing the 30 day extension of the UI and COBRA programs, and that it appears extremely unlikely that the Senate will be called back into session for a vote before April 5th, when the programs expire. We have learned that the Senate has scheduled a cloture vote (a vote to end debate on the bill - they must get 60 votes to move forward) for 5:30 pm on Monday, April 12th, at which time they'll try to move the 30 day extension through as quickly as possible. Simultaneously, and we hope over the recess as well, they will be working with the House to resolve some differences in the bill that would extend these programs through the end of 2010. We are hoping that year-end extension will be firmly in place long before the end of April.
For more information on Congress' failure to act, please see our press release.
We wish we had better news for you. We have been in close contact with many of the state UI agencies and the organization that unites them all and they will be working diligently to get their programs back up and running as quickly as possible once Congress acts. We hope that for those of you who face a disruption in benefits that it will be short-lived.
A few things to remember:
-If you are in the middle of a tier of benefits, you will be able to remain on that tier and finish it out before you benefits lapse. We hope that this lapse is so short lived that a minimal number of people are impacted, though we know for those who lose benefits, the impact will be great.
-When the programs are reinstated, they will be retroactive so you will eventually receive every bit of benefits you would have had the programs not lapsed. We know that for many of you the disruption is devastating even if retroactive, so we do not mean to minimize the impact, but wanted you to all know that benefits will be retroactive.
Again, we are sorry to have to deliver this news and look forward to updating you with better news as soon as Congress re-convenes in April.
In the mean time, visit our NEW action alert to get in touch with your Representatives. We are urging the Senate to act quickly upon their return to pass the 30-day extension. Be sure to have your friends and families do the same - the time is NOW - you must act so that Congress knows that they too, must act NOW.
If you have additional questions, please visit our "Ask the Expert" page for newly updated answers to all your UI & Benefit questions.
Click here for blog archive.