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In February 2012, Congress put a temporary end to a divisive fight over extending unemployment benefits that left Massachusetts unemployed workers with at least a 57- week extension on their unemployment benefits.
As Worcester Mag reported at he time, “Problem is, say local organizers, no one consulted with the unemployed before taking the vote."
“What’s going on with unemployment, it’s a very deep and broad problem and it’s receiving very little attention,” the WoMag article quoted Chris Horton as saying. “His work with the Worcester Anti-Foreclosure Team has kept him involved in the plight of the un- and underemployed.”
“There was a lot of pressure behind the scenes, but the media coverage made it look like an afterthought. It was the kind of vote we were afraid of,” the WoMag article quoted Grace Ross as saying. She’s another WAFT member and author of the book Main Street $marts, a study of the most recent economic and foreclosure crisis.
As WoMag noted, “for Ross and Horton, the spin hurt the hardest. As the economy shows signs of recovery, including claims of a national 8.3 percent unemployment rate, they say there’s less focus on joblessness because the statistics sound comparatively rosy. Unfortunately, that 8.3 percent misses tens of thousands of unemployed who don’t fit the federal government’s definition.”
My guest, Grace Ross, is also an organizer for the Worcester Unemployment Action Group.