Witness Wednesdays: Voices of the Unemployed
Next Event: Wednesday, July 23, at 12:30 p.m. Eastern
at the House Triangle on Capitol Hill
Focus: Long-Term Unemployment's Impacts
on Local Economies and Small Businesses
Watch video footage from the July 16 event, focused on long-term unemployment and older and younger workers
WPFW 89.3 FM
(segment begins at 23:49)
More than 3 million hardworking Americans have been cut off of emergency unemployment compensation since the program was allowed to expire on Dec. 28, 2013. Extended unemployment benefits help people pay their rent, utility bills, and transportation while they seek new work.
In the past, both Republicans and Democrats have helped the unemployed get back on their feet. It's time for us to come together again and support our friends and neighbors.
The Center for Effective Government, the National Employment Law Project, the Coalition on Human Needs, and the National Women’s Law Center have collected more than 2,000 stories from Americans suffering from long-term unemployment. Throughout June and July, our organizations will join members of Congress and faith, labor, civil rights, and nonprofit leaders to share some of these stories in a series of seven Witness Wednesday events. We invite you to join with us, listen to these readings, and demand an extension of long-term unemployment insurance.
All Witness Wednesdays events will take place at the House Triangle on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC (near Independence Ave. SE, S. Capitol St. SE, and New Jersey Ave. SE). There are two events left, both of which will run from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. Eastern time. They will take place on July 23 and July 30. If you are not in Washington or cannot make it to the events in person, you can watch them online. Bookmark www.witnesswednesdays.org and check back often for livestreaming, updates, and links to archived videos.
Click here to download a printable Witness Wednesday invitation. Please help us spread the word!
Katherine McFate explains the origins of Witness Wednesdays
Number of Americans Denied Access to Extended Unemployment Compensation
Counter courtesy of the Office of Rep. Sander Levin
Stories from Hard-Hit Americans
From North Port, Florida:
I have used up the last of the reserves that I thought would tide me over until I could find a self-supporting job. I am 56 years old and am facing age discrimination at every turn. I cannot count the applications I have completed, but I've had only a handful of interviews and met with opposition from employers. If I do not receive extended unemployment benefits, I will lose my home and all the possessions I have worked for since I was 16 years old. Just that little bit of help will keep me hanging on a bit longer, and we all need to buy time right now in hopes of that job to come along. I have never been let go from any job; this is the first time in my life that I have been laid off. While I was employed, I never thought the job market was as bad as it is. Until you are placed in this dire circumstance, you don't realize all the devastating emotions that also come along with this. Please remember all of us. I am a mother and grandmother who will not be able to have any more family gatherings for special occasions and holidays because there will no longer be any home for my family to gather in.
From Harlan, Kentucky:
I was laid off from the coal mines in October 2013, and my benefits ran out in April 2014. I was taking care of my mother, who has Alzheimer's. Now she has gone to a nursing home, and I am homeless with two daughters. This was the only home I knew, and now it is gone. My kids will be starting school soon, and I'm afraid I will have to give them up to Social Services because there are no shelters here to stay in. I am a 16-year veteran of the U.S. Army. I am not a criminal, nor will I ever stoop to that level. I still have faith in the country I fought for in Iraq and Afghanistan, but now hope is fading because there are no jobs here, especially for a 44-year-old man.
From Phillipsburg, Missouri:
I lost a great job where I made over $40,000 a year. We are about to lose our home. We have already lost our vehicle, which we surrendered to the loan company. I am 66 years old with some physical issues, which employers are using to prejudge me. I keep trying to find work. We have a hard time buying groceries and paying utilities. It's hovering around 100 degrees, but we don't dare use the air conditioner. It's seems hopeless.
From Las Vegas, Nevada:
My 70-year-old mother and I are looking at being homeless, possibly at the end of August when my benefits will end. I look for a job every day! Living in Las Vegas is tough; for every job opening, there are 100 [people] who apply, it seems. Unemployment benefits are a lifeline to me so I can keep searching for work. I am not lazy and a freeloader. I want to work, but when they don't extend these benefits, we that lose them fall [through] the cracks.
From Manalapan, New Jersey:
After a year of searching for jobs and assistance, I am facing eviction and I am responsible for two dependents. I have obtained unemployment, help from churches, and after fighting for a year, I finally obtained food stamps. I returned to school, hoping it would aid in my job search, but I cannot get an interview. I am going to be homeless with my children because there are no support programs in the community. Most services out there will only help you if you have a job. I can't even get a job to be able to get the help. This is a very mentally and emotionally draining process.
Find these stories and more in our growing story archive.
Share your story with us! Use our brief webform to tell us how the expiration of extended unemployment benefits has impacted you, your family, and your community.
You can also participate in the Center for Effective Government's Long-Term Unemployed Action Forum.
The Senate took a stand and voted to extend long-term unemployment benefits in April. Unfortunately, that bill has now expired because Speaker John Boehner refused to allow a vote on the House floor. We must continue to call for action. Click here to find addresses, phone numbers, and contact information for your elected officials. Thank House and Senate champions for standing up for the long-term unemployed, and urge House leadership to reach across the aisle and work with the Senate so that both chambers can pass extension legislation right away.
A petition is also available, and we encourage you to sign it if you haven't done so already. This petition is available through MoveOn.org.
For Further Reading
Emergency Unemployment Benefits Are Not Forgotten, The Fine Print blog, Feb. 26, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Ways to Take Action, The Fine Print blog, March 6, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Time to Petition the Government, The Fine Print blog, March 12, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Compromise in the Senate, The Fine Print blog, March 14, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Boehner Signals Reluctance in the House, The Fine Print blog, March 21, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Benefits Extension Clears First Hurdle in the Senate, The Fine Print blog, March 28, 2014
Extending Emergency Unemployment: Senate Finally Expected to Vote to Extend Benefits and Rush through Corporate Tax Cuts, The Fine Print blog, April 2, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Benefits Bill Passes the Senate, Increasing Pressure on the House, The Fine Print blog, April 8, 2014
Stories of Americans Cut Off of Emergency Unemployment Compensation, Government Matters, April 22, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Extension Expected to Take Back Seat to Tax Extenders, The Fine Print blog, April 25, 2014
Technically Speaking: Making Sense of Discharge Petitions, Cloture and Filibusters, The Fine Print blog, May 5, 2014
Unemployed Americans Kicked Out of Capitol, Forced to Share Their Stories Outside, The Fine Print blog, May 10, 2014
Six Months after Emergency Unemployment Benefits Expired, 2.8 Million Americans Left Behind, The Fine Print blog, May 21, 2014
Witness Wednesdays: Stories of the Long-Term Unemployed to Be Read on Capitol Hill, The Fine Print blog, June 10, 2014
Not a Game: Women and Families Hit Hard by Long-Term Unemployment, National Women's Law Center blog, June 18, 2014
Long-Term Unemployment: Spotlight on Women and Families, National Women's Law Center, June 18, 2014
Witness Wednesday: Voices of the Unemployed, Voices for Human Needs blog, June 19, 2014
What is this Country about Anymore?, OtherWords op-ed, July 2, 2014
Bipartisan Unemployment Benefits Bills in Both Houses, The Fine Print blog, July 2, 2014
Highway Trust Fund Temporarily Saved, Unemployed Still Waiting on EUC, The Fine Print blog, July 18, 2014