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Call Congress to urge renewal of unemployment benefits

House-GOP-w-WAWASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 9, 2014) — When House Republicans refused to extend emergency unemployment insurance (UI) benefits at the end of the year, they left 1.3 million people out in the cold this holiday season. Working families advocates, including President Barack Obama, are continuing to urge Congress to do the right thing for struggling families and the businesses in their communities where these benefits are spent.

Legislation to extend UI benefits — which a new poll shows is supported by a strong majority of American voters — has already passed a critical vote in the U.S. Senate with six Republicans joining Democrats in voting to do the right thing. The bill could advance to the House of Representatives any day now, but House Republican leaders are threatening to hold it hostage unless they can extract more budget cuts first.

TAKE A STAND! Please call your U.S. Representative TODAY — especially if yours is GOP Rep. Dave Reichert, Jaime Herrera Beutler, “Doc” Hastings, or Cathy McMorris Rodgers — and ask him or her to renew the emergency UI benefits: Call 877-318-0483 TODAY!  Also, Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-6th) has created an online petition to Congress urging passage of the UI benefit extension. Sign it here!

In a press conference on Tuesday, President Obama said that the benefits are a lifeline during the job search. Obama talked about one woman from California who was laid off 13 months ago. During her job search she has volunteered, sent out résumés, took seasonal work and online courses to gain new skills. The job search would be next to impossible without the jobless benefits that enabled her to pay her car and phone bills.

In Washington state, more than 24,400 unemployed workers have already been cut off unemployment benefits as of Dec. 28, 2013, according to the state Employment Security Department. Thousands more will be cut off with every week that passes unless Congress acts.

Congressional inaction is also harming the economy at a time that the long-term unemployed are struggling to find work. Economists have warned that the federal cutoff of long-term unemployment benefits is draining $400 million per week from the U.S. economy, and the toll is increasing week by week. Moody Analytics estimates that the UI benefit cutoff will cut the nation’s economic growth by 0.15 of a percentage point. That may not sound like much, but “every tenth of a percent matters” when economic growth is sluggish and the very people harmed by the cutoff are desperate to find work.

Please call your U.S. Representative TODAY at 877-318-0483 and urge him or her to renew the emergency UI benefits immediately!

The Washington State Labor Council has two staff members who can assist with unemployment insurance issues. If affiliated unions have members that who support, please contact Bill Messenger ( or Caitlyn Jekel ( for help.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!