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Dozens of people line up to seek a job at the Wells Fargo call center in Salem, Ore., on Wednesday, May 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Statesman-Journal, Thomas Patterson) Dozens of people line up to seek a job at the Wells Fargo call center in Salem, Ore., on Wednesday, May 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Statesman-Journal, Thomas Patterson)  

Union aims to organize the unemployed

Photo of Caroline May
Caroline May
Political Reporter

America’s jobless are unionizing, or at least furthering an agenda of one of the nation’s biggest unions.

An organization aimed at giving the unemployed more influence has announced it now has more than 100,000 jobless activists in their ranks.

The Union of Unemployed (UCubed) Activists is an Internet-centric “community service project” of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) — one of the country’s largest industrial trade unions.

“Our objective is to pull together unemployed Americans in a way that allows them to connect, communicate and press their political leaders for policies that will get them back to work,” Rick Sloan, UCubed’s executive director and IAM communications director, told The Daily Caller.

According to the group’s website, jobless “Jobs Activists” assert their influence through coordinated communication with public officials.

“Jobs Activists, organized by their zip codes, advocate for sound public policy, emailing public officials to alert them about policies that directly impact the jobless,” the website explains.

Among those policies the group advocates is a second Works Progress Administration or WPA 2.0.

“We’d like to see [policymakers] recreate the Works Progress Administration, WPA 2.0. Which in the 1930s put between 6.5 and 8 million people back to work,” Sloan said.

The WPA was a New Deal program instituted by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1935 to put Americans to work on public infrastructure projects during the Great Depression.

The group is currently pushing passage of New Jersey Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s recent “21st Century WPA Act” to reinstate the New Deal employment program, and Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur’s attempt to rejuvenate another New Deal program with her “21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Act.”

Lautenberg’s bill would cost $250 billion through 2013; Kaptur’s would cost $16 billion annually through 2015. Both bills are pending in committee.

UCubed is also interested in supporting extensions of long-term unemployment benefits.

“Those 100,000 online activists regularly share posts with their 26.6 million Facebook friends, giving the unemployed a power that far exceeds their numbers,” Sloan added in a statement. “UCubed connected with jobless Americans by asking a simple question: Where’s a job for me, Mr. President? And by advocating for a new Works Progress Administration — a WPA 2.0 — to put Americans back to work ASAP.”

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