Thursday, December 8, 2011

Seniors, Community Advocates, Jobless Workers Hold Prayer Action at Rep. Todd Akin's Office, Urge Vote to Extend Unemployment Insurance

With nearly 35,000 Missouri families likely to lose unemployment benefits in early 2012, community advocates and faith leaders joined jobless workers to pray for an extension to unemployment benefits at Rep. Todd Akin's Ballwin office in St. Louis County. They called upon their elected officials to take immediate action so that families won't lose their unemployment lifeline and communities won't suffer the devastating financial impact. Extended unemployment benefits are set to expire December 31 unless Congress acts.
At Akin's office, constituents including faith leaders, jobless workers, OccupySTL members and other advocates held a prayer and a speaking program highlighting the stories of jobless Missouri workers and urging a vote to reauthorize unemployment insurance. "Unemployment benefits were the only thing that kept my family from losing everything," said autoworker Patsy Waller. "We're here to tell Rep. Akin that we're counting on him to put aside partisan politics and stop thousands of Missouri workers from losing their only lifeline."

Judith Parker mentioned a recent interview where Rep. Akin suggested that unemployment insurance discourages workers from looking for a job. "My son has been looking for work every day for two years," said Parker. "My granddaughter has leukemia, and my son desperately wants a job to pay for her care. Until there are enough jobs, we need to extend unemployment benefits to those that need them."

Chaplain Marshall Watkins, Jr. talked about the urgency of the cuts, saying "this is a moral issue, and our elected officials need to do what's right for those looking for work this winter." Workers gave Akin's staffer white flowers to symbolize those that will be left out in the cold this winter to share with their stories and prayers, since Akin wasn't able to be reached.

Retiree Dave Meinell attended the action and urged Akin's staff to consider the congressman's voting history on Social Security, Medicare and other critical programs and how cuts to those programs worsen the unemployment crisis. "Older people like me are being forced to work longer and there aren't as many jobs for young people. Workers age 20-24 have an jobless rate of 16.7 percent, far higher than other workers."

The St. Louis prayer action was one of actions around the country this week in congressional district offices and in Washington, D.C.
For more information and to hear stories from jobless Missouri workers, visit UIStories/MO.

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