The Fight for Unemployment Insurance

For a PDF version of this, click here: Unemployment Insurance

In late 2010, millions of Americans – unemployed through no fault of their own — were in danger of losing their unemployment benefits.

USAction was determined that wouldn’t happen.

We decided to show Congress the face of the unemployed. Along with the AFL-CIO, we brought more than 250 unemployed workers to Washington for a press conference with Congressional leadership.

Among those who came and spoke was USAction member Edrie Irvine.

In front of a packed, camera-filled room with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and more than three dozen journalists, Edrie talked about losing her job as a legal secretary in October 2009:

“I’ve worked for over 40 years. I’ve never had trouble finding a job. I did everything that my parents and society told me to do. I worked hard. I went to school. I raised a wonderful son and I’ve got two great grandkids. I did everything right. And then the financial meltdown happened.”

Edrie was a hit – she was interviewed by the Associated Press and USA TODAY and the next morning appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America.

Her message: Don’t continue to give tax cuts to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans while starving the unemployed.

The battle wasn’t easy. Going in, we were told we would be lucky if we could get Congress to extend unemployment insurance for two, maybe three months.

Instead, after the unemployed workers we brought to D.C. fanned out and lobbied members of Congress, unemployment benefits were extended for all of 2011.

We won the battle – and set the stage for more successes to come.

We are USAction. We are the true majority.