Don’t Cut Off America

 

48 Days Since Congress Cut Off Aid to the Unemployed

The National Employment Law Project is sharing the stories of  unemployed worker impacted by Congress’s devastating decision to allow the programs of extended unemployment benefits and health care for the unemployed to lapse. Please tell Congress today to fully reactivate these critical programs and visit our blog for campaign updates.

T.S., Vandalia, OH

Meet T.S., from Vandalia, OH.  Has an Associate's Degree and worked as a Data Analyst for 3 years, prior to being laid off in December 2009.

I am 28 years old and have been working consistently since I was 13 years of age. I have never had to be on unemployment in my entire life. Now the one time I need it, it has been taken away. My state benefits (first 26 weeks) ran out on June 5th and I was not able to go onto any extension. I fill out job applications every day, submit my resume each morning to whomever I can, and still I am jobless. I have considered going back to school to get my bachelor’s but I have no idea how I would pay for it and I am not sure which major would help my chances at getting a job. It is not fair that some employers are now not even debating whether or not they will hire someone that is unemployed.

I called my local fast food restaurants and they told me that they were not hiring overqualified people at this time. How can I put money into the economy and help our country out when no one is giving me a chance to work? I hate being on unemployment, as do many others that I have talked to, but that is our only lifeline to surviving. I cannot go out to employers and submit applications when I cannot even afford gas to put into my car, or bus fare. I hope Congress will see that the unemployed are struggling families and not a drain on society. No one collects unemployment without having worked. We need our government now more than ever. This is an emergency.

45 Days Since Congress Cut Off Aid to the Unemployed

W.L., Jacksonville, FL

Meet W.L., from Jacksonville Florida. Has 22 years experience in the U.S. Navy. Has worked in Communications and Management in various capacities, and has an Associate's Degree. Laid off in May 2009.

I served my country, without objection, when it needed me. After leaving the military I acquired a college degree in Business Management and started my own business. After having my shop destroyed by vandals, I closed my business and accepted employment outside the USA where I worked for 11 years.

Upon returning to the USA, I worked various administrative positions until May 2009. Since that period of time I have been looking for employment every day. I post my resume to many positions. I have posted for many positions, had 2 interviews, but was not contacted after that. My qualifications are at worst "excellent"; however it is to no avail. I continue to look for work; however it's extremely frustrating having to accept the fact that although my expertise is needed, my age isn't. I can't accept any other reason for not being selected.

To that end, I have been relying on unemployment to tide me over until such time as I do find employment. I have faith that it will happen, but in the meantime I direly need these benefits for my daily needs. I hope that Congress will hear the call of workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and pass this extension. When I was a military man I never once had the thought of not giving whatever my country required of me.

I will not list those things which I now must forego because it seems irrelevant, given the magnitude of losses that millions of other families also face. I pray to God every day for those of us who have lost our homes, cars, basic necessities, and most of all, our dignity.

44 Days Since Congress Cut Off Aid to the Unemployed

W.J., New York, NY

Meet: W.J., from New York, NY.  Worked in Banking and Finance for 17 years, and as Retail Owner for 12 years. Laid off in December 2008.

I never had any intention of having to depend on unemployment benefits, but the events of the last few years have made it unavoidable. I am 59 years old, and have been working and paying into the unemployment pool through my payroll taxes since I was old enough to get my working papers at 16. That is 43 years. As a kid, I had a paper route, mowed lawns, washed cars and did whatever odd jobs I could find to earn pocket money. My parents believed in supplying the basics, but I was taught from an early age that I had to earn my pocket money. I had part-time jobs throughout high school and full-time summer jobs from high school through college. In college, I worked two unpaid internships and a part-time job in addition to a full academic curriculum. I owned a retail shop for 12 years and spent the last seventeen years in Banking and Finance with JP Morgan Chase and Bear Stearns. I was downsized in December, 2008.

Since being laid off, I spend most of every day looking for work. I have sent out literally hundreds of resumes, joined all the online job networking sites, signed up for daily job alerts online from every site I’m familiar with and responded to every print job posting I qualify for. In all that time, I have had two interviews. I have applied for jobs for which I am a perfect fit, jobs for which I am over-qualified, and unpaid internships just to have a chance to demonstrate my skills. I have been willing to accept positions paying far below what I used to earn. It is a demonstrable fact; I want to work.

Because Congress has not yet voted to restore the extension of unemployment benefits, my unemployment benefits lapsed on June 2, 2010. I have been put into a position of needing unemployment benefits to pay my rent and keep food on the table, through no fault of my own. My economic survival and the economic survival of millions of American families depends on passing this extension.

43 Days Since Congress Cut Off Aid to the Unemployed

A.T., Sacramento, CA

Meet: A.T., from Sacramento, CA.  Worked in Printing for 4 years and in Customer Service/Clerical positions for 18 years. Completed 2 years of college coursework. Laid off in August 2009.

I have always prided myself on being financially responsible and paying my bills on time. Since being laid off from my job in August 2009, my credit rating has gone downhill. This is because I just don’t have the resources now that I had when I was working. My husband now is the only income earner and our bills, expenses, and rent add up to be much higher than his monthly salary. Since being unemployed, I have had to use my credit cards, get cash advances, and borrow money from family and it makes me feel horrible.

I have kept up a relentless job search. I have applied for at least 600 jobs and this is discouraging not receiving any information back. I have been to numerous job fairs but to no avail. I often complete 20-30 job applications in one day, but barely get any feedback from employers. I have applied to a broad segment of employers, including department stores, retail chains, and places where I have worked before. I am not picky about jobs and I have been very open-minded about where I apply.

Days go by when I hardly sleep at all, worrying about our bills. Since my benefits were cut off on July 1 at the end of my 1st extension, we have had to concentrate all of our income on paying the rent and buying food and gas. I have not been able to pay any of our other bills. Our other bills have been trying to work with us, but I don’t know how long we can make it like this.

42 Days Since Congress Cut Off Aid to the Unemployed

J.K., Phoenix, AZ

Meet: J.K., from Phoenix, AZ.  Worked in Banking for 16 years, with a B.S. in Business Management.  Laid off in August 2009.

I was employed at a bank that has been hit hard by this economy. Due to downsizing, I was displaced. I have been actively applying for a job ever since. I am a mother of three children. I do not want to have to rely on unemployment to help me pay my bills. I want to work. I have worked for years, never missing work unless I was so ill I could not move. I was always on time, and I stayed late if need be. Even while I was attending college at night, I still worked and worked hard.

I have had my resume out there for the past year and have only had one interview. I put out my resume and apply weekly. After that interview I was told I am overqualified. Thank God for my husband’s small business. Together with my unemployment benefits, it has made it possible for us to hang on to what we have. Even though I qualify for more benefits, my benefits were cut off, when Congress did not pass the extension. That money helped me to buy groceries for my family of 5. Without that weekly check, it is getting harder and harder for us to make ends meet. If this economy worsens and it begins to affect my husband’s business, which it could easily, then we will really be in trouble. If that happens, we will lose everything.

41 Days Since Congress Cut Off Aid to the Unemployed

R.R., Mishawaka, IN

Meet: R.R., 35 Years in Manufacturing, Laid off in December 2009

I have worked in manufacturing for 35 years, 26 of those years in management, 11 years in sales. In December of last year, my employer shut down around Christmas for two weeks and never called me back. I have been working since I was 14 years old. I have a good work ethic and at times, I have held down three jobs at one time.

Now, I fill out application after application and get no call backs even when my skills match exactly to what they ask for. When I go to apply for jobs, there are hundreds of people there trying to get the same job. Often, there is no representative of the company there to collect the applications and you are expected to leave the application with your personal information on it lying in a basket where it could be stolen or thrown away by another applicant.

If Congress doesn’t extend benefits, my benefits will run out at the end of this month. I don’t know what I will do, since I have already burned through every drop of my savings. I have been a life-long musician, but I have sold my musical instruments and other personal possessions, just trying to hold on to my house. I lie awake at night with acid indigestion worrying about how I’m going to survive. My daughter who is also looking for work and her two children have moved in with me. The economy has not been this bad since the Great Depression. I have not seen anything like it in my 56 years.

31 Days Since Congress Cut Off Aid to the Unemployed

J.S., Louisville, KY

Meet: J.S., Project Management in Construction, High School Degree, Laid off in October 2008. 

I was a project manager in the construction industry and I've been laid off since October 31st 2008. Initially after being laid off, I didn't think much about it. Thought after a couple months I would be back to work. I had some savings in the bank and with my UI Benefits I would be ok. As time progressed the savings decreased and I began to wonder if I was going back to work not just with my old company but with any company, as I kept calling companies within my industry and was told either they were not hiring or they themselves were laying off. I've made so many calls that the companies knew me by name when I called and they automatically told me that nothing had changed from the last time I called. I've submitted literally hundreds of resumes with companies all across the US. Actually got a limited response from a company in California, but when they realized I was in KY they quit responding. I only have a high school education and have worked hard to get to management level, but in recent months have even attempted to get entry level positions to no avail.

As I went through the various levels of UI Benefits (quite blindly I might add-as I still have no idea of the method) my savings finally was depleted and was barely getting by from check to check. This past May 2010 I did my final eligibility review I was told that this was my last 20 weeks unless Congress extended not the money. I had planned on using the last 20 weeks of benefits to pay down my mortgage as much as possible and pray that I found something before the benefits expired. On June 13th 2010 I went online and requested my benefits and 3 days later I got a check for only 1 week. I called UI office and was told that my benefits had been stopped June 5th. I got 3 weeks of the 20 weeks.

I paid what bills I could with the check and now my mortgage payment will be due in 2 weeks, all of my utilities will be disconnected on July 15th and given due process, my home will be foreclosed in the near future. I went on Jun23rd and applied for food stamps and should get those sometime in the near future. I'm a single person and having a very difficult time, I can only imagine what these families are going through. My heart goes out to them.

30 Days Since Congress Cut Off Aid to the Unemployed

M.I., Cedar Hill, TX

Meet: M.I., from Cedar Hill, TX, Telecommunications/Project Management, Laid off in August 2009. I am a highly skilled and experienced project coordinator who was making $20/hour when I got laid off last August. I have always been able to find a job quickly in the past, sometimes going through temporary agencies. Now I can’t even get a temp job for $10/hour. I have resumes customized to match different types of positions, and have easily applied for over 400 positions since I got laid off. I’ve had 7 interviews and no offers.

I received my last check under Tier I extended benefits on June 16. I am fortunate in that I rent my house from mother, so I won’t be evicted immediately, but the electricity, phone, and water will probably all be shut off by the second week of July. I’m trying to be positive and think of it like camping, but no A/C in Dallas in July isn’t very fun, and I have asthma, so I probably won’t last long here.

29 Days Since Congress Cut Off Aid to the Unemployed

 C.D., Cleveland, Ohio.

Meet C.D. from Cleveland, OH, Office Clerical/Customer Service (20 years) with some college education, Laid off in November 2008 I’ve been out of work since November 2008. I’ve put out tons and tons of cover letters and resumes and filling out job applications as well. So many that I have lost count. I have them stacked in a box and it is filled to top and still increasing. On Tuesday, May 25, I had to register for the Ohio State Extended Benefits that expired on Saturday, June 5 and now held up by Congress, I’m not receiving any unemployment checks. Without money, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I could very well lose my home.

Being without benefits is adding to the stress and worry that I am already experiencing from being without a job. After receiving the bad news that the bill died, I broke down and cried my eyes out and called for prayer. I have lost many nights of sleep wondering how I will keep food on the table. With no income at all, I won’t be able to pay my utilities, and may not be able to keep my phone working which is the number on all of my job applications. I also don’t know how I will get to a job interview, if I get one, since I have no money to put gas in my car.

I am not lazy; I want to work. With over 15 million people out of work and just over 3 million jobs available, unemployed workers need their benefits extended, now. It’s not right! If there were jobs out there, us Americans wouldn’t need to be on these extended benefits.

24 Days Since Congress Cut Off Aid to the Unemployed

E.Z.

I have been unemployed since 12/2008. Despite submitting hundreds of resumes and making many calls to potential employers my search has been futile. Although age shouldn't be a factor in my search, I feel that it has been a deterrent. Since there is one opportunity for employment for every five jobs out there I am becoming very discouraged in my search. I have now gone three weeks without an unemployment check. I am screening phone calls from bill collectors for two reasons. Number one:I am embarrassed to answer the call. Number two: I don't want to use up minutes and have my phone cut off , as this is the number on all job applications and resumes sent to potential employers.

Since I have been laid off I was forced sell my car and to move in with my father. Thank God for my father. At 54 years old this is a total embarrassment. I was also forced to borrow money to buy my twin eight year old girls modest birthday presents and borrow so they could join a soccer leaque. I must add that child support payments were taken directly out of my unemployment check and obviously that has stopped. So not only do I suffer but now my daughters have been dragged into this mess we have in this country.

23 Days Since Congress Cut Off Aid to the Unemployed

D.L., Stockton, California

Meet D.L. from Stockton, CA. Engineer for 9 years, with a B.A. in Engineering. Laid off in October 2009

"I will never forget the day. I was called into the office of the General Manager at the engineering plant on 10/31/2009. I was told that I was being laid off and that today would be my last day. I started working at the plan in 2000 and in 2001 they started walking people out because of outsourcing. For 9 years I went to work each day wondering if it would be my last day, it wore me down mentally. I’ve been looking for work ever since I was laid off, and I have found nothing.

"The fact that I am 58 years old is also a big factor. I went back to school to learn a trade for a job opportunity that I had heard about through a neighbor. Once I finished the classes; the job was no longer available since the economy had gotten worse. I have sought the help of a psychologist twice. I am lucky though, because my wife works as a teacher and hasn’t been laid off yet. My unemployment helps out a lot, though. Because of my weekly benefit, I am able to contribute financially, to help my wife with some of the bills, and that keeps me going. I keep telling my wife “things are going to get better because they have to.”

22 Days Since Congress Cut Off Aid to the Unemployed

J.F., Birmingham, Michigan

Meet J.F., from Birmingham, MI. Broadcast Radio for 15 years, with a B.A. from Michigan State University. Laid off in December 2008

"I had a radio show in Detroit for 15 1/2 years. I was let go recently due to budget cuts. When I found out I was going to be let go, I offered to stay for LESS than one-half my pay but I was told even that was too much to satisfy the budget cuts. A few months later, the company hired me back to do a part-time show paying $15.00 an hour for 25 hours a week. When I found out about this opportunity, I was ecstatic. Although it wasn’t a full-time job, it was income coming in that my family desperately needed to survive. However, this opportunity soon fell through...I was devastated.

"I can't find another job. I send out hundreds of applications a day, no call backs. Radio stations use voice tracking, which eliminates the need for real human beings. The full-timers tape the weekend shows so there aren't even part-time positions anymore. And to add increased strain on my family life, my husband is now unemployed as well. He has an MBA and worked for years as an engineer.

"During these past few years, we've lost 2 houses; it's been awful. Unemployment insurance has helped keep food on the table when I had no clue where my family’s next meal was going to come from…and without the COBRA subsidy, I would have gone this entire time without health coverage. However, with my COBRA subsidy ending in July, I can't afford health insurance for myself or my family….it's too expensive"

21 Days Since Congress Cut Off Aid to the Unemployed

C.R., Minneapolis, Minnesota

Meet C.R., from Minneapolis, MN. Nonprofit Executive for over 27 years, including 3 years in the U.S. Peace Corps, with a BA in English and Psychology. Will be laid off in July 2010.

"I am a career non-profit worker/community organizer, beginning with post college experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, West Africa. I have successfully raised two children, as single mother and have always retained health insurance. I am now 52, remain dedicated to hard community work and due to fundraising difficulties in the present economic climate find myself about to be jobless for the first time since graduating from college and going into the Peace Corps.

"I have a mortgage still due on the home that I “own” and have lived in for 23 years in Minneapolis. I assumed I would be “safe,” meaning I could make my house payments and health insurance payments, when I lost my job because I thought I could rely on unemployment insurance (which I’ve never had to access before) and the critical link of COBRA subsidy offered through the stimulus package this past year.

"I have the added concern of being a cancer survivor having been diagnosed ten years ago. Because the insurance companies, by and large, can continue to discriminate against people like me with a pre-existing condition, I will be in a very serious, perhaps life threatening position when I am left with no insurance in August. Reauthorization of the COBRA subsidy by voting YES for HR 4213 could very well save my life."

20 Days Since Congress Cut Off Aid to the Unemployed

J.C., Gainesville, Florida

Meet J.C., from Gainesville, FL. Marketing Executive for over 16 years, with a BA in Business. Laid off in June 2009.

"I had a great job, a new car, a good home. I guess you could say I was living the “American Dream”…that is, until the “meltdown.” I recently lost my home and my car and if not for unemployment my family and I would be without anything to eat. I currently share a mobile home with 2 other families in order to keep a roof over my family’s head. I spend my days applying for jobs. I WANT TO WORK. I’ve had a few interviews, and each time I’m told I am too qualified.

"I read in one of NELP’s publications that there is something like 1 job for every 5 workers, if that is the case, how could it possibly make sense to cut off the unemployment benefits? Without them, what are we supposed to do? Our lives are literally in the hands of Congress, and I hope for the sake of my family and anyone else in our situation…that Congress does the right thing."

If you are also willing to share your story, particularly with the media, please contact us here.

 

I will never forget the day. I was called into the office of the General Manager at the engineering plant on 10/31/2009. I was told that I was being laid off and that t