DeFazio on unemployed: 'These people don't want to be dependent'

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      EUGENE, Ore. - Tired of people thinking they're taking a taxpayer-funded vacation, a group of Eugene area residents came together Wednesday to share their struggles alongside Rep. Peter DeFazio.

      "There's no dependence here," the Springfield Democrat said. "These people don't want to be dependent."

      "After next month, I will have to find a way to collect bottles and cans so I can pay my phone bill so I can have a connection to find work," said Patrick Pillett. "After that, I still have to figure out how to pay rent."

      "I've got bills that need to be paid," said Manuel Esperanza, unemployed since April. "They're not going to get paid. You call them up on the phone: some will work with you; others won't."

      They are just a part of Oregon's unemployed community.

      While looking for work, Americans from every state collect federal unemployment benefits after they have exhausted six months of state benefits.

      But last month Congress didn't re-authorize those benefits, and the future of benefit checks is uncertain.

      "I go to job interviews and they ask me what I've been doing for the last year, and I tell them looking for work," said Christopher Green. "Do you collect unemployment? Yes I do. Is that nice? How is that for you? Well I spend all of my money to come talk to people like you who discriminate against me because I'm poor, so it's soul crushing and horrible."

      Many of the people who gathered Wednesday said they come to WorkSource Lane daily to print out applications and resumes.

      Others said that, in addition to struggling to survive, they suspect they face racial and age discrimination.

      "They feel that older workers may be more sickly, especially a woman my age may not be experienced with computers, but that's nonsense," said Phyllis Kayor. "I've loved computers all my life."

      Nearly everyone NewsSource 16 spoke to Wednesday said they had tried to find work in the fast food industry. They said hiring managers consider them to be over-qualified for the job and hold the opening for someone struggling with less education.

      "Being able to work is not the issue," said Brandi Adams. "It's finding the employment to hire you."

      The unemployed hope Congress will re-instate unemployment benefits because, just like the economy, these Oregonians are still struggling to recover.

      "We have three kids. We live in a 2-bedroom apartment, and we'll be lucky if we can keep the roof over our heads for the next couple of months," said Carleen McCaffrey, "let alone until, you know, who's going to hire us."