The AFL-CIO launched a new website on Tuesday designed to capture the stories of the unemployed in their own words. The website, Share Your Story allows site visitors to upload their stories and pictures to the site, providing a human face to the issue of unemployment, which politicians talk a lot about, but don't seem nearly as interested in doing something about.
Many of the stories on the site are like those of Pat from San Jose:
I was a Communications worker for just under 20 years. After I was "surplused" in 1995 I went to work at a non-union job in the same industry which later became Worldcom followed by positions in two other companies. After the dot com bust in 2001, finding a full time job was hopeless. Apparently the rules had changed and I did not have the education to continue doing the work I had done for 25 years. The past 10 1/2 years have held sporadic, temporary and part time positions, most in retail which paid very little and I have now been unemployed for about a year. This track record, along with the fact that I am now 61 years old doesn't offer much for a resume. My thought is to apply for Social Security (a real oxymoron) if the powers that be will allow it. My retirement fund has all but vanished in the wake of what has happened. I don't know what plan the 1% has for us--maybe they expect that we will simply vanish the way our money did on Wall Street.
Janet from Texas questions the whole system:
I have two masters degree and am all but dissertation for a doctrate in social work. I worked, consistently for the first 30 years of my adulthood and am now unemployed. I am living with friends because I cannot get unemployment. I cannot get unemployment because I quit my last job. I quit my last job because they were not paying me. I am suffering, in chronic pain, because I have no health care coverage. I am substitute teaching to try to cover my expenses so if a permanent job comes through, I will still have a car to get there. My question to you, as I stand in front of a classroom of young people: I am supposed to tell them to get a high school degree and go on to college because...............why?
She is far from alone in being a hard-working person who played by the rules and was still left out in the cold by the system. Even more heartbreaking are stories like that of Marge from Illinois:
I am writing to say what a profound negative impact joblessness has on a family. My son in law is in the building trades industry. Due to lack of activity he has been laid off for the last two years almost as much as he has worked. This has placed much stress on their young family and marriage. In fact the stress has gotten to the point where my son in law is back to drinking heavily which has led to their separation. I might add that they have two young sons. One is six weeks old. So I have a very strong opinion that we need to do what it takes to extend unemployment benefits. What will families do if they have absolutely NO income? And more than that we need to get the economy back on track. What is wrong with Congress that they are more concerned about seeing someone fail or getting their way than to look out for the good of the people who elected them? I am still hopeful that those members of Congress who have real values will stand firm and do what's right!
AFL-CIO's release urges everyone to participate:
You need to check out this website, right now.
It’s a powerful reminder of the real faces behind America’s sobering unemployment statistics. It has real pictures and stories from job-hunters and impacted people from all walks of life—from your state and from every state.
I hope you’ll take a minute to look at these powerful stories, share them and add your own.
If Congress fails to act by Dec. 31, extended unemployment insurance will expire for millions.
We never forget these are real people who face the prospect of going hungry and getting thrown out of their homes soon after the holidays if Congress fails to act. Many of us have been there before—or have friends and family who have.
Even though obstructionists in Congress are willing to ignore our joblessness crisis, we refuse to let these stories get brushed under the rug.
Click here to see and share the stories and faces behind America’s joblessness crisis.
Then, share our website on Facebook and Twitter and forward this message to all your friends.
These stories and pictures won’t just live on a website. We’ll share them with the media, hand-deliver them to Congress during our massive day of action on Dec. 8 and promote them widely on the Internet.
If callous members of Congress think they can sit back and allow unemployment aid to expire while they play political games, they’re wrong. With your help we’re going to force them to see this crisis head-on—with real faces of real people who are jobless and struggling in this brutal economy.
See these stories, share them and add your voice.
Online Mobilization Coordinator, AFL-CIO
P.S. It’s not just people who are unemployed right now who have stories to tell. Millions of others do, too.
Maybe you’ve been jobless in the past and relied on unemployment benefits to get through. Or you’ve seen firsthand how much unemployment hurts your community and America—and how much unemployment aid helps. Or maybe you can write a brief statement of support for the jobless or urge Congress to act—even in just one to two sentences.
Together, we’re creating a visual display of the impact of unemployment that will be too powerful to ignore. See and share stories and statements in your state and across America. Then, add your own.