December 9, 2011
99 to Rep. Howard Coble: “Extend the lifeline”
About 50 workers, students, and community activists joined unemployed constituents to demonstrate for the extension of unemployment insurance outside of Rep. Coble’s office on Thursday, December 8. For jobless North Carolinians and local communities hit hard by long-term unemployment, extended unemployment insurance is a lifeline that is set to expire at the end of December unless Congress takes action.
Our event Thursday was part of a nationwide mobilization to call attention to the ongoing jobs crisis and to urge Congress to take immediate action and extend unemployment benefits. If Congress fails to act by December 31, 69,700 unemployed North Carolinians will start the New Year losing the only thing keeping them and their families from falling into poverty.
But jobless workers will not be the only losers if unemployment insurance is not extended. In North Carolina, the loss to communities like ours could total a staggering $20,275,730 a week. That’s because the average weekly benefit in our state of $290.90 gets pumped directly back into the economy, paying for groceries, gas, housing, and utilities. In fact, for every $1 spent on unemployment insurance, our economy grows by $2.
“Without unemployment insurance, I wouldn’t be able to keep food on the table or a roof over my family’s head,” said Parnell Baldwin of High Point, “and it worries me to think about what would happen to us if Congress doesn’t act now to help struggling families.”
Delivering a message
Parnell Baldwin and David Cottrell, both laid off from Thomas Bus in High Point, delivered a letter addressed to Rep. Coble at his Greensboro office. They were joined by John Crawford, President of UAW Local 5287, which represents the workers at Thomas Bus. The letter was signed by everyone who attended the protest, and it said, in part:
Extended unemployment benefits are still necessary because we are obviously still in the middle of a jobs crisis. There are still more than four unemployed workers for every job opening. Nearly 14 million Americans are unemployed, and six million are receiving unemployment insurance. Long-term unemployment remains at record levels, with the average duration of joblessness now over 9 months and six million people—nearly 45% of the unemployed—being unemployed for six months or more. Congress has never before let federal extended benefits expire when labor market conditions were this bad.
Rep. Coble’s staff first told Parnell, David, and John to call the D.C. office. “We’ve tried calling the D.C. office,” said John. The staff then said that the Congressman has yet to make up his mind. “He’s still gathering information,” they were told.
“Please tell him we need him,” replied Parnell.
“He should have a decision made,” said David after the encounter with Coble’s staff, “because you’re playing with too many people’s lives.”
Rep. Coble has a choice to make. Will he stand by Parnell, David, and other North Carolinians struggling to find work in an economy with four job seekers for every one job opening? Or will Rep. Coble focus on keeping tax cuts for the 1% who are not suffering?
Call Howard Coble at 202-225-3065, and tell him to “Extend unemployment insurance, now!”