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GM bankruptcy, plant closings, pending new layoffs create new urgency for thousands of suffering Michigan families

LANSING – Citizens groups today called on the Michigan Senate to move on legislation that would bring $138 million into Michigan’s economy and provide real relief to hundreds of thousands of unemployed Michigan workers.

“With the announcement by GM this week of seven plant closings in our communities, dealing with the suffering of Michigan’s families and the impact on our state’s economy must come first,” said Progress Michigan Executive Director David Holtz. “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—the stimulus legislation—provides desperately needed money for unemployed workers who can then afford to buy food, clothing and other items from local businesses. The only thing standing in the way is action by the state Senate. We strongly urge them to act now to remove some uncertainty for Michigan’s unemployed workers.”

“These federal funds will provide a lifeline for tens of thousands of Michigan workers who have lost their jobs — and for local businesses where these funds will be spent,” said Jack Minore, Michigan AFLCIO Legislative Director. “With these federal funds, countless men and women can get back on their feet and get the training they need to prepare for non-manufacturing jobs; and pumping those dollars into the sagging Michigan economy helps all of us. By taking action now, the Michigan Senate can give hope to many working families and give a boost to the Michigan economy.”

The state House passed legislation in early May that would qualify Michigan for federal funds the Obama administration had swiftly made available to states to help unemployed workers. The Senate Tourism and Commerce Committee, however, has yet to act. The number of unemployed is expected to increase with the recent bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler, as well as a wide range of businesses and suppliers that have been hit hard by the economic crisis. The federal economic recovery money would provide funding to Michigan to expand unemployment benefits to workers in retraining programs and those who were once full time but no longer qualify for jobless benefits because their hours were reduced to part-time.

Eleven states with lower unemployment rates than Michigan have passed legislation that would qualify them for the funds that the Obama Administration had swiftly made available to the states to help their unemployed workers. The 11 states have also embraced extended benefits for retraining and worker assistance. They include Georgia, Iowa and Oregon.


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