Jobless workers demonstrate in Miami Springs in support of continued federal unemployment benefits in the pandemic economy. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

By Diane Rado/Florida Phoenix

Though a $300 per week federal unemployment supplement expires this Saturday, the Florida AFL-CIO and other advocates are calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to keep the supplement going as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

On Thursday, the union plans to deliver a petition of more than 6,000 signatures to DeSantis’ office — signatures from the AFL-CIO, the Tallahassee-based Florida People’s Advocacy Center, and other organizations.

The groups also plan a press conference Thursday, as the clock ticks down on the last day of the $300 supplement on Saturday.

“The idea that ending these benefits will end Florida’s so-called ‘hiring crisis’ is a shaky one at best. In reality, this move will only damage our local communities by pulling roughly $700 million in stimulus funds out of our economy. Those funds will now go to states still enrolled in the program. This short-sighted move will only hurt out of work Floridians and pass up federal funding vital to our economic recovery,” the AFL-CIO said in a news release.

While the advocacy groups call the $300 supplement a lifeline for the unemployed, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, in an announcement in May, described the situation as a “Return to Work” initiative.

Meanwhile, some unemployed workers continue to struggle to find work.

Florida already has the lowest unemployment benefits in the nation, based on a combination of 12 weeks and a maximum amount of $275 a week in payments.

In the spring legislative session, both Democrats and some Republicans pushed to enhance Florida’s unemployment benefits, but the effort failed.

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