|Michigan Worker? (Image by AlexStaubo)|
Michigan has become the first state in the U.S. to cut unemployment benefits below the 26-week standard set by the federal government. Starting in January, 2012, unemployed workers will only be able to collect benefits for 20 weeks, according to the WSWS. With 44% of unemployed workers out of work for more than six months, and the average unemployed worker requiring nine months to find a new job, this move is a vicious attack on working people.
Michigan has had an unemployment rate of more than 10% for over two years now and the situation is not likely to improve any time soon. Consequently, they will likely see dramatic increases in homelessness and hunger. Many unemployed workers will be forced to accept dangerous, mind numbing, or abusive working conditions for low wages just to be able to stay in their homes. Those lucky enough to have union jobs will start to feel increasing pressure to accept more cuts to their pay and benefits or risk losing their jobs to the increasingly desperate long-term unemployed. Those who choose to go on strike will find a ready army of scab strike breakers willing to cross the picket line for a chance to earn some money.
Yet again, the unions, by their refusal to take a militant stance, are contributing to their own demise.