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Machinists to organize the jobless

The Machinists union announced a program Friday designed to organize and assist unemployed workers, union officials said.

Other unions have joined the effort.

The idea is to create small networks of unemployed workers across the country and bring them together to form a nationwide network.

The problem has been how best to organize people who want jobs but can't find work, said Tom Buffenbarger, international president for the Machinists union.

The network, called UCubed, can create political clout to demand action on job creation and put pressure on politicians, Buffenbarger said.

"The efforts so far on job creation and reigniting the manufacturing base in this country are virtually nonexistent or are failures," he said. "We're sensing from our own members this growing sense of frustration and helplessness."

The network also will list job openings and training options.

"I wish there wasn't a need for this organization," Buffenbarger said. "Our goal ultimately is to connect people with jobs."

When workers lose jobs, they know what it's like and can be sympathetic to others in a similar situation, he said.

"There's a lot of things they can share with each other, and they need a conduit," Buffenbarger said.

Those who take part don't have to be affiliated with a union, Buffenbarger said.

UCubed gets its name because, like a cube with six sides, a cube of unemployed workers is formed once six people in the same geographic location sign up and are linked together. Cubes then team with other cubes to form a block.

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