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Hundreds Brave Cold For Chance At Union Job In Queens

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Job seekers are lining up in Queens for a chance to land a union position.

Hundreds of people have been camped out in Long Island City for days in tents, cars and lawn chairs to apply for 50 apprenticeships with District Council 9. The district is hiring drywall finishers and painters.

“It’s cold but two days in cold, we established a career,” said  Frank Rubino from Staten Island.

Gary Anderson has been weathering sub-freezing temperatures since Wednesday.

“Payout seems pretty good compared to two days in the cold,” he said. “My mom made me a bunch of chicken cutlets.”

“We’ve been here since Tuesday,” said job applicant Ray Feliciano. “The pension and the benefits, they’re excellent.”

Closer to the front of the line was Deni Peralta. He got there Tuesday, which was one of the coldest days in decades.

“I’m number 16, so I think I got a good shot,” he said.

The three-year position pays nearly $18 an hour to start, but union officials said it offers the chance for higher wages down the line as well as job stability and a pension.

The union will continue to hand out applications for ten days or until they reach 500, whichever comes first. CBS 2 tried to speak to union officials but, they declined to talk to on camera.

In Washington, lawmakers are hammering out a deal to extend long-term unemployment benefits by three months. They expired just before Christmas.

Democrats and Republicans disagree on how to pay for them. Lawmakers came within inches of a deal Thursday night, but it fell through.

The expired law gave up to 47 weeks of payments after an unemployed worker exhausted state-funded benefits, usually 26 weeks.

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