About 30 protestors staged a noon march in front of Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s downtown office building on Monday. Most of those who took part belong to labor unions.
Their mission: to put a face on Alaska’s growing jobless problem.
Beltrami says 3,400 Alaskans will be directly affected, if extended benefits are allowed to expire on December 31st. Beltrami says others will feel the impact as well.
“Those paychecks circulate a ton of money that will hurt businesses, that will hurt services, that will put a strain on those safety net agencies that are already bursting at the seams,” said Beltrami.
After demonstrating outside, marchers headed inside the Peterson Towers and took the elevator up to Murkowski’s office on the sixth floor.
They gave her staffers not just one copy of a list of Alaska social service agencies, but 3,400, to be sent out, should Congress fail to extend jobless benefits.
One of those in the crowd, David Littleton, is an out-of-work concrete liner. Littleton says he would prefer to have a job, but until then, he needs unemployment insurance benefits to keep his family afloat.
Littleton says construction work is hard to come by these days in Alaska, and he doesn’t hold out much hope for the immediate future. Littleton believes the state is already feeling the impact of reduced federal spending, which has fueled construction work in recent years.
“Instead of just working for one contractor, which I usually do, I wound up going to three different contractors on four different job sites around Anchorage,” said Littleton, who was employed about six months this year.
Sen. Murkowski was surprised to learn of the protest and called it premature. She says she and other senators are working on a legislative package that would deal with a range of employment issues, including extending payroll tax cuts and jobless benefits.