John Johnson of Change Links posted a heart-rending story about an unemployed person to the LAAMN list. It was posted to Unemployed Friends, the best forum for the long-term unemployed out there. It was with some sadness that I read that UF is now closed.
It closed due to disruptive members who were out to sabotage the efforts of Unemployed Friends. Dealing with the forum was just too much.
The silver lining to that dark cloud is the American 99ers Union: http://www.american99ersunion.com/
founded by two UF members.
This online organization is mobilizing the unempolyed politically to support legislation to extend unemployment and promote stimulus spending.
The structure of the organization is fascinating. It's a network of networks, a coalition of over 20 organizations founded by the unemployed themselves. What sets these organizations apart from the thousands of job-seeker support groups is that these 99er groups are political organizations, with political agendas to extend unemployment.
These are the people that the various labor organizations, unions, and community groups should be working with to build some kind of structure for shared struggle. The problem is, it's not happening. Union activist and critic Harry Kelber has written extensively at his website: http://www.laboreducator.org/labtalk.htm
It's not only labor that should unite with the unemployed. So should leftist political groups, who are the natural allies. There is one group in LA doing this work, and it's RAC with their weekly resource and food sharing operation in Macarthur Park on Sundays at 1PM. If you need food, go there. If you can afford it, donate to their cause.
If you need food, Food Not Bombs does weekly servings of a late lunch at Pershing Square, Sundays at 6PM.
The LA Catholic Worker serves food Tu Th and Sa mornings to around noon. The CW is the far-left wing of the Catholics, and are pacificts. Look up "Dorothy Day."
Remember, even if you can afford some food, you can economize by eating meals with the homeless or nearly homeless.
Do not feel bashful. The most important thing the unemployed and poor can do is meet each other and be together. Isolation is the enemy. Depresssion is the enemy. The power that you will gain, together, will be greater than the cost of the food served.
The LA Dumpster Diving meetup group cathers periodically to scavenge food from dumpsters, and then eat some of the food together. They can help you stock your fridge and save hundreds of dollars on groceries. They also donate food they can't use. http://www.meetup.com/freegan/
Back in the 1930s when workers were becoming hobos, riding the rails to seek work across the country, they developed a system of chalk-mark signs. (Hobos were not "bums". They were workers who could not find work, so travelled, homeless, to find it.) http://cyberhobo.com/signs/hobosigns.html
It's time again for things like this - a communication system for the unemployed and temporary workers, and odd-jobbers. We're all trying to make it in a tough economy and need all the help we can give each other.
Taking over and occupying space, whether it's space outside, space online, space in the media - it's important. And those of us who have jobs, need to occupy these same spaces in the name of the unemployed. This togetherness is the basis of political power and survival.
Other job-seeker resources:
There are employment support groups at all the EDD offices and WorkSource offices. http://www.edd.ca.gov/office_locator/ http://www.worksourcecalifornia.com/
Westside and South Bay Unemployment Support group http://www.meetup.com/Unemployment-Support-Survival/
Unemployment Appreciateion Team http://www.meetup.com/Westside-Unemployment-Appreciation-Team/
The Unemploymentor - a local unemployed guy http://theunemploymentorblog.com/