The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Erica Smiley
(202) 393-1044

Nationwide Demonstrations to Demand Extensions of Unemployment, TANF Emergency Fund

Actions Target Senators during Thanksgiving Recess


Starting this week, Jobs with Justice coalitions in dozens
of cities will bring the voices of un- and under-employed workers into the
debate on how to move forward on a jobs plan that would put people back to work
immediately. 15 million Americans are out of work, and with out a major
federal investment in creating jobs, (official) jobless rates will be 8-13%
into the next decade. Meanwhile, corporations are sitting on more than $8
trillion in reserves that could be used to create jobs.

After Thanksgiving over 2 million Americans will be cut
off from their existing unemployment benefits. These benefits have helped keep
more than 3.3 million jobless workers and their families out of poverty. [1] Moreover, before
hitting the campaign trail Congress failed to extend the TANF (Temporary
Assistance for Needy Families) emergency fund, which subsidized jobs for nearly
250,000 otherwise unemployed parents and youth. Never before have federal
jobless benefits been cut when unemployment levels were so high (9.6%) for so

"I lost my home and my family, and now I'm on
the verge of being homeless," said Rafael Guzman, a transit worker in Orlando, Florida
who has been unemployed since August 2008 and is in line to lose his
benefits. "If Congress can't create new jobs for people like
me, they have to at least provide us with the unemployment benefits to help us
get through this crisis."

Guzman may join Central Florida Jobs with Justice in
targeting Senator Nelson while he is in district for the holidays in hopes of
getting him to commit to voting for the extension.

While the core demands of the protests are to extend
unemployment benefits and the TANF emergency fund, Jobs with Justice coalitions
from Philadelphia to San Francisco are struggling under the banner of full and
fair employment - including passage of legislation like Local Jobs for America
Act which would save or create 1 million jobs along with the passage of a
Financial Speculation Tax that would rein in the more destabilizing aspects of
Wall Street and generate $200-$500 billion annually.

"Nationwide, the "jobs deficit" is about
11 million, with 5 job-seekers for every job opening," said Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs with
Justice. "When Wall Street was in crisis, Congress found hundreds
of billions of dollars to bail them out. We need to respond to the jobs
crisis with the same urgency."

For a list of cities planning actions and
to learn more, visit

In addition to the September 15 Day of Action, Jobs with
Justice coalitions across the country are organizing to address the jobs
emergency in multiple ways, including organizing local Unemployed Workers
Councils, participating in a United Autoworkers and Rainbow Push march for
"Jobs, Justice and Peace" in Detroit August 28, and building for
the "One Nation Working Together" march on Washington on October 2.