History of the "99ers" - Now what can we do?

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Post by Guest on Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:27 pm

As a "veteran" at being unemployed now - (4 years unemployed, over 2 years since benefits ran out) - I can tell you that we, as a group have tried everything we could manage to do.

Our efforts began in late summer, 2009, when the piece of legislation to enact tiers 3 and 4 to the federal extension was introduced in Congress. Most thought it would be a breeze to get through the Senate after it cleared the Dem Majority ruled House. HR 3548 finally passed in mid-November of that year, about two months after the "original 99ers" had exhausted all available extensions, including state EB. It was an uphill battle back then just to get these additional 20 weeks that tiers 3 and 4 provided. We have written, called, faxed and tweeted our Senators and Representatives, provided "Testimony for the Record" for the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee for their hearings on long-term unemployment, we have blogged about it, caught the attention of some mainstream media like Ed Schultz, Ali Velshi, Kieth Olberman, Rachel Maddow, etc., formed a "99ers Union", many members have been featured in national publications and appeared on national news outlets from MSNBC to Fox Business News, telling their stories of the difficulties facing the long-term unemployed. It seems like everything we have done has fallen on deaf ears.

We have sat by helplessly as members and friends took their own lives because they felt their situation was hopeless. We have supported each other through illness, deaths in their families and marriages were destroyed. We celebrated when, on a rare occasion, a member finally got a job, most of the time one that paid significantly less than their old jobs.

MaryKay's Letter for the 99ers should have well over a million signatures, it only has several hundred - there is no excuse for that.

Last February, a bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), and co-sponsored by over 80 of her colleagues in the House (all Democrats) and we had our hopes set high. That bill would have extended tier 4 by an additional 14 weeks, and applicable to anyone who had been eligible for EUC08. The bill was introduced at a press conference by Ms. Lee, who was surrounded by a group of longterm unemployed and 99ers. HR589 was sent to the House Ways & Means Committee for a hearing. Once again, hundreds of members introduced their Testimony for the Record and once again, despite our efforts, that bill still sits in Committee, waiting for a hearing. We all know now that it won't happen, Congress has chosen to go in the opposite direction - reducing the amount of weeks of unemployment benefits.

Most of the time we have been sidetracked by petty arguments over politics or other personal opinions. Members have turned on each other. While we had the chance to organize as a large united group, we sat back and socialized, turned against each other, fought over politics, etc. Some were here to just chat - sit back and let a few do the work. I'm not saying there was anything wrong with socializing, we need it for support, but too many left it up to a select few to advocate. Now that most have disappeared, probably due to financial reasons (not being able to afford the internet, which was our most valuable tool to spread awareness of LTU), the voices of the advocates have quieted, maybe some out of frustration, maybe some have become to disheartened to put their full effort into this situation. This is exactly what Washington wanted. Now that we are in an election year, no one brings up the exhaustees anymore, and the fact that by reducing benefits that number will be increasing steadily. Politicians have turned their focus to other issues, none of which compare to the humanitarian issues the jobless in this country face right now.

Apathy divided and conquered. If we want anything done, we need to stick together despite our political differences. This crisis is not a political issue (as it has been treated for the last three years), it is a human tragedy that can only be addressed when we are all willing to make the commitment to stick together and lose the excuses of why we "can't" advocate any longer.

I hope I see that day while I am still young enough to find employment.


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Post by Guest on Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:26 pm

I hope this excellent post is enough to get all our members fired up and emailing, calling, faxing and tweeting once again.

As pointed out, when we were together, we were garnering attention and support.

Sadly, again as pointed out above, the original 99ers are now joined by new 99ers, 73ers and soon to be 26ers. That amounts to millions of unemployed without benefits and most importantly without hope of finding suitable employment in the forseeable (is that right) future.

I am going to bump up the 99ers letter, rename it the exhaustees letter and hope that our new members will join us in attempting to bring this back to mainstream attention, Congressional attention and force the issue and make it a talking point for the upcoming election.

Thank you Desperate for the pep talk. There is no reason why any of us "can't" advocate, even for 10 minutes a day. Every little bit helps. History of the "99ers" - Now what can we do? 34243


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Post by Jobless_in_Ma on Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:16 pm

Excellent post Desp and you really hit the nail on the head!

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