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Long-term unemployed 'union' campaigns for change


...and by "change," I mean extended unemployment benefits:

[Scott] Mathewson, a San Jose electrician who has been out of work for more than two years, spends most days in an online chat room he created to lobby for another round of unemployment benefits. In this election year, he and other jobless workers are trying to turn the nation's 14.9 million unemployed into a political force.

"This has made me 110% more politically active," said Mathewson, 45, who in March exhausted his 99 weeks of jobless benefits, the maximum available.

I know I'm going to get in trouble for saying this, but -- speaking from experience -- your chances of finding work dramatically increase if you don't spend "most days" in an online chat room.

Mathewson is part of a growing army of so-called 99ers, the estimated 3.5 million unemployed workers who will have fallen off the jobless benefit rolls by the end of the year. Their prospects for finding new work are dim. The U.S. economy continues to shed jobs and the national unemployment rate is 9.6%; the August jobless rate in California was 12.4%.

With their finances in tatters and little hope of finding work anytime soon, Mathewson and other 99ers are pressing policymakers for additional aid.

On Wednesday, Mathewson's group plans to join with 16 similar grass-roots, Internet-based organizations to blitz members of the U.S. Senate with faxes and e-mails. Calling themselves the American 99ers Union, they're urging lawmakers to approve a stalled bill granting an additional 20 weeks of benefits to long-term jobless workers in hard-hit states.

Click here to read the full story from the LA Times.

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