YONKERS, New York - Labor Day, the celebration of America’s workers, will see many Americans left out this year. Massive unemployment rates have seen millions lose their jobs since March and now adding insult to injury, these previously hard-working Americans will be left behind once again.
Mark Chesleck, who was laid off from his bartending job in Yonkers, New York, and currently earns more on unemployment than he did at his job, is one such person. Chesleck is the leader of a group of laid off citizens who brand themselves as the Unemployed Workers Union, or UWU. The group advocates for equal rights for all unemployed people including: anti-discrimination laws, where minority workers must be laid off at equal rates with white workers; a 2-hour non-work day, where unemployed people will only be required to search for a job or file for unemployment for a maximum of 2-hours per day; and paid time off for the unemployed including during federal holidays such as Labor Day.
In an UWU zoom call last week, Mr. Chesleck laid out plans for a strike and a protest for unemployed people left behind this Labor Day. The 1,000-member-strong group plans to march outside the Yonkers unemployment office and demand they not be required to fill out tedious paperwork and instead get their money without any work at all.
“Now we know protesting for free money is what we do as a job, but until we are guaranteed paid time off from our hard work of not working, it’s a fight we will have to take,” Chesleck said to a crowd of about 30 UWU leaders, “We cannot waiver. We cannot bend. Rights for the unemployed are human rights and everyone deserves a fair chance at not working.”
When asked for a comment, Chesleck told Penguin reporters, “It’s a difficult job being unemployed, and honestly I think I need a vacation, but our work is important, so for us, Labor Day is just another workday.”
Mr. Chesleck promptly signed off for his customary 4-hour lunch break, another major point in UWU’s platform.