Labor leaders held an emergency telephone press conference June 10 and are appealing to everyone to call or e-mail their Congressional representatives on June 11 and 12 to urge them to vote for a new bill that will extend unemployment benefits.

The AFL-CIO has directed its state and local leadership to issue immediate appeals to every union member in the country to participate in an unprecedented e-mail and phone blitz of all members of Congress. The bill would increase jobless benefits from their present 26 weeks to 39 weeks in most states and 52 weeks in states where the unemployment rate is over 6 percent.

SEIU, a Change to Win union is also part of the effort.

“The economy is in free fall and working people are struggling. The share of all the unemployed who are jobless more than 6 months is 18 percent, and there are two jobless workers searching, per every job available,” said AFL-CIO Legislative Director Bill Samuel during the press conference.

He described the economy as it stands now a “toxic brew” for workers and their families.

The bill will come to a vote either on June 11 or 12. If it becomes law the extension would be retroactive for all workers who exhausted their benefits as far back as last November. Samuel said that each month since January 200,000 additional workers have lost their benefits by reaching the end of their 26 week periods.

The unions have set up a toll free numbers for activists to call. Members of the public should call 1-888-460-0813. Ask the Capital operator who answers to connect you with your Congressional representative.