WASHINGTON – Roughly 3,000 unemployed workers from around the country are expected in the nation’s capital this week for four days of protests with labor, religious and social justice groups that say Congress cares more about America’s wealthiest 1 percent than it does the masses of struggling middle-class families.
Piggybacking on the Occupy Wall Street movement, the “Take Back the Capitol” protest will open Monday with construction of a “Peoples Camp” on the National Mall as a base of operations. On Tuesday, protesters will hit Capitol Hill to lobby members of Congress about extending federal unemployment benefits. The group walks to K Street on Wednesday to protest the political influence of corporate lobbyists.
And on Thursday, they’ll host a national prayer vigil for the unemployed on Capitol Hill. At the same time, the AFL-CIO will coordinate simultaneous protests at congressional district offices across the country to call for extending unemployment benefits that are slated to expire Dec. 31 without congressional action.
“We’re going to be here for a week, and we’re going to be letting them all know that people are getting pretty tired of a Washington that works for the few and not for the many,” said Robert Borosage, co-director of Campaign for America’s Future, one of a coalition of organizations sponsoring the event.
Protesters will call for passage of President Barack Obama’s jobs bill and for continuing the 2 percentage point payroll tax cut for employees.
The protest is expected to draw the largest gathering of unemployed workers in the nation’s capital since the economy tanked, said Andy McDonald, spokesman for the American Dream Movement, a national coalition of self-styled progressive groups.
Representatives from 15 Occupy protests from around the country will also take part, Borosage said. U.S. Park Police said the protesters will not be allowed to sleep overnight on the National Mall.
Sponsoring organizations for “Take Back the Capitol” include Rebuild the Dream, the Center for Community Change, USAction, Interfaith Worker Justice, Faith in Life, MoveOn.org, the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO.