WASHINGTON — America’s unemployed workers brought their message of frustration and despair directly to the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday as they filled dozens of lawmakers’ congressional offices and refused to leave until they met with their elected representatives.

The sit-in style confrontations were the opening salvo of a three-day protest event dubbed “Take Back the Capitol,” which is sponsored by a coalition of progressive organizations.

The groups want Congress to pass President Obama’s jobs bill, extend the payroll-tax break for working Americans and extend federal emergency unemployment benefits that are slated to expire Dec. 31.

The protests overwhelmingly targeted GOP  opponents of the Obama jobs plan, but the groups also visited leading Democrats such as Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

Hundreds of protesters emerged from their “tent city” on the National Mall and trekked to the Capitol, where they made good on their promise to  track down members of Congress to demand commitments on their pet issues.

“If they don’t pass the jobs bill, we will get rid of them,” said Oliver Hendricks, an unemployed ironworker from Boston who was among 250 Massachusetts residents who came to protest.

In many of the meetings with GOP lawmakers, staffers were polite but dismissive, telling protesters that the lawmakers were out of the office or too busy to meet with them. At that point, most protesters decided to occupy the offices or camp out until the lawmakers showed up.

Capitol Police arrested at least one protester for unlawful entry, at the office of Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo.