IBEW Members Step up Activism on Unemployment Benefits
December 8, 2011
With time running out for Congress to act on extending unemployment benefits, jobless workers are speaking out and showing up in the nation’s capital, including some unemployed members of the IBEW. If Congress fails to act before Dec. 31, nearly 2 million people will lose unemployment benefits in January. Without action in 2012, at least six million could be without benefits.
The week of action, ends on Dec. 8 with a prayer vigil outside the Capitol, included lobbying at lawmakers’ offices across the country.
Ronald “Todd” Sheally, a 30-year inside journeyman wireman member of Cumberland, Md., Local 307, attended the Dec. 1 rally along with members of Baltimore Local 24 and Washington, D.C. Local 26.
Sheally, who has only worked 16 weeks in 2011, formerly worked in a nearby paper mill for a signatory contractor before the mill’s owner—pressured by imports from China—declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The contractor pulled out its forces. “It makes me sad,” says Sheally, “that we have a country full of unemployed skilled tradesmen that other countries would love to have.” He adds:
At the kickoff rally, Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), said:
Unemployed workers in town for the week of action linked up with members of the Occupy Wall Street movement to protest on K Street, calling attention to the domination of U.S. politics by corporations employing lobbyists who have offices in that area of the city.
In a story on the protests in the Kansas City Star, Eric Braddock, 28 of Lumberton, N.J. , who is employed as an illustrator, spoke about his parents, ages 55 and 65, who have lost their jobs. He said;
The AFL-CIO has launched a Web site for unemployed workers to tell their stories about how unemployment has affected their lives and those of their family, friends, community or the United States as a whole.
Another site, the Unemployment Lifeline helps jobless workers seek resources that can assist them in the midst of personal economic turmoil.
Sheally is hopeful that the week’s activities and support from other Americans will lead to a renewal of unemployment benefits. He says: