Health Care for America Now (HCan)
In early February 2011, Dawn Bliesener, herself nearing 99 weeks on unemployment and about to be cut off of all benefits. "We do not sit around in hammocks, we are ready to take a job that is offered to us."
Bliesener opened this first press conference of the Jobs and Unemployed Committee with her own story. She said she has been looking for work since losing her job at HealthNet in 2009, and will exhaust her benefits in July.
Beth O'Connor, who worked for AT&T for 13 years, was laid off more than two years ago due to outsourcing. After her benefits ran out, she finally found a job working 15 hours a week at minimum wage as a school lunch aide.
Alexandra Ferreira, nearing her 99-week cut-off of benefits, got applause when said, "It is the responsibility of our legislators to address the issue of unemployment and job creation. Our communities are already suffering and are in desperate need of relief. They bailed out Wall Street and gave the rich a free ride on paying their fair share of the tax burden. Did the unemployed create this mess? No, they did not."
Speaking on behalf of the New Haven Central Labor Council, Gwen Mills expressed appreciation for the testimonies. "The Labor Council is with you," she said, noting if public workers and others getting laid off, the unemployed and those who have union jobs all join together then "that is the power that can win a change."
The Jobs and Unemployed Committee was established to "provide mutual support for unemployed workers, and to provide a place to organize for measures that will strengthen the economy". It meets at the Communist Party USA controlled New Haven Peoples Center.
On August 8, 2011, "Third District voters gave U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro a simple message to bring back to Washington: It’s all about jobs".
Connecticut AFL-CIO, faith-based groups, community leaders and organizations in the We Are One coalition coordinated a roundtable discussion Monday with DeLauro, of New Haven, at the Second Star of Jacob church on Chapel Street.
“I have three to four months of unemployment benefits left, and actually, no prospect for a job,” said Alexandra Ferreira, a college-educated mother of an 8-year-old boy. “People need to work so they can take care of themselves, their families, their communities. Until more jobs are available, people need to have access to government assistance, that should include health care.”
DeLauro said she is sponsoring legislation that would make it illegal for employers to advertise that long-term unemployed people should not apply for an open position and a bill to boost economic development, infrastructure maintenance and improvements and create jobs.
She sponsored the Manufacturing Reinvestment Act, which allows companies to save up to $500,000 a year in pretax contributions in a community bank for up to seven years. The funds would be taxed at a low rate and could be used to buy equipment, improve facilities or for job training.
“I got the idea from the New Haven Manufacturers Association,” DeLauro said.
Joe Guerrera, community and government relations director for the International Union of Operating Engineers and an unemployed construction worker, spoke in favor of generating construction jobs in the state, not just talking about it.
DeLauro said that even though the stimulus package created millions of jobs, she does not believe it was large enough.
Inez Bell, a recent high school graduate, and Brian Boorman, a teacher and member of the Middletown Federation of Teachers, both said the government should invest more, not less, in education and helping students who want to pursue higher education but do not have the financial means.