CVH Joins with Dozens of Allies to call for End to WEP
On March 22, 2012, we released a statement signed on by more than 25 leaders from faith, community and labor, as well as a range of elected officials calling for an end to the Work Experience Program and to fully fund the Parks Opportunity Program. This was released prior to a Park Committee hearing, which we also testified at. (Read the testimony here.)
Here is a snippet from that statement, with the full statement linked below and the press release below that.
As community groups, non-profit organizations, elected officials, religious institutions and labor unions, we call on the administration of City, State and Federal government to end the practice of unpaid labor and to convert all workfare positions into paid Transitional Job positions. We seek programs that lead to real long-term, paid civil service employment opportunities.
Transitional Jobs are time-limited paid positions that offer people receiving welfare the opportunity to gain experience and training. They re-introduce welfare recipients to the workforce while offering a real paycheck. Transitional workers would have job titles, supervisors, union status, training components, and more. At the end of the transitional period, assistance is provided for moving people into paid, long-term employment.
We support civil service jobs for all!
We support programs that provide wages, experience, and training for a future of ongoing, long-term employment.
CVH, Melissa Mark-Viverito, DC37, TWU & more stand up against unpaid work Bloomberg seeks to force on NYers
Leaders from community, labor, and faith organizations, as well as elected officials, join in opposition to Mayor Bloomberg's effort to force New Yorkers into the Work Experience Program
NEW YORK, NY (03/22/2012)-- Leaders from Community Voices Heard, a low-income community organization based in East Harlem, joined with leaders from City Council and the labor movement to call on Mayor Bloomberg to cease his effort to force New Yorkers to perform unpaid work through the Work Experience Program. The Mayor is proposing to cut the Park Opportunity Program by almost $25 million dollars and replace paid union workers with unpaid labor from WEP, the Work Experience Program.
The group released a statement signed on by more than 25 leaders from faith, community and labor, as well as a range of elected officials.
Tyletha Samuels, a leader with the Building the Workforce campaign at Community Voices Heard, said, "Slavery then versus slavery now is no different than slavery now. Mayor Bloomberg asking people to work without a minimum wage paycheck isn't right and isn't fair. The 'E' in WEP – experience -- is missing since this program leaves us without any usable experience."
The NYC Human Resources Administration and the Parks Department have both proposed cuts to the Parks Opportunity Program, which is a program providing a pay check, job training, and one day of classroom training to people on public assistance through the JTP program. Mayor Bloomberg is proposing to replace JTPs with WEP workers, which would force people on public assistance to work for their benefits without a pay check, without paying into social security, no union membership, and no qualifying for earned income tax credit.
Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, the Chair of the NY City Council Parks Department, said, "The Parks Opportunity Program provides poor New Yorkers with the chance to improve their circumstances through their own effort and initiative. Participants learn transferrable skills, which in this economy cannot be undervalued, and many find consistent employment after participating. Why would we replace a smartly targeted, well-structured program like this for the Worker Employment Program? WEP pays participants nothing, denies them union membership, and rarely provides either on-the-job training or education. WEP does not provide a pathway out of poverty; it keeps people stuck right where they are."
John Samuelsen, President of TWU Local 100, said, "The Mayor's action to cut decent full time jobs only to replace them with WEP workers is outrageous and beneath contempt. We stand in solidarity with our brother and sister unions here today and with Community Voices Heard against this punitive action. We elect our leaders to hopefully create good jobs and support the middle class and working poor, not to shanghai citizens down on their luck into indentured servitude to undermine our society and cover for Wall Street's misdeeds."
Council Member Annabel Palma, Chair of the Council's Committee on General Welfare, said, "Over the years, the Parks Opportunity Program has offered thousands of public assistance recipients the invaluable opportunity to transition from welfare to work. However, if the Mayor's budget proposal is passed, this vital program could be faced with the loss of $25 million in funding, threatening the program's survival. At a time of continuing high unemployment, it's unfathomable that the Mayor would consider cutting a program with a proven record of success at getting people back to work."
Council Member Brad Lander said, "Fair pay for a day's work is a fundamental American value. Mayor Bloomberg should not cut corners with the wages of low income New Yorkers."
Mark Dunlea, Hunger Action Network of NYS, said, "The federal government has consistently ranked New York's welfare to work programs as among the least effective in the country. One exception has been transitional jobs programs such as POP. It is hard to understand why the Bloomberg administration is so resistant to providing more jobs to people who need them, especially when the State provides them with an annual block grant of more than half a billion dollars that can be used for this purpose."
Currently, there are nearly 17,000 people doing unpaid WEP every day in NYC and recently Mayor Bloomberg has begun forcing New Yorkers receiving food stamps to do WEP.
The statement was signed by Community Voices Heard, District Council 37 and the Transit Workers Union Local 100, as well as joined by labor union leaders including Robert Schwartz of American Federation of Government Employees-Local 1151; Julie Kushner, Director, United Auto Workers Region 9A; Stuart Appelbaum, Presidents, Retail, Wholesale, Department Store United. Also signing the statement are elected officials including: U.S. Representative Ed Towns; NYC Council Members Mark-Viverito, Chin, Dromm, Foster, James, Lander, Palma, Rivera, Rodriguez, Rose, Williams, and Levin. Ally organizations joining include Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Women of Color Policy Network at NYU Wagner, National Center for Law and Economic Justice, National Jobs with Justice, Hunger Action Network of New York State, Dutchess Outreach Inc, Rev Ozzie Edwards of HCNSA and religious institutions including Walker Memorial Baptist Church and Rev Debra Jamieson of Focus Churches of Albany.
5/9/12 UPDATE: Council Member James Sander, NEDAP, and VOCAL-NY have now signed onto the statement!
*** Community Voices Heard is a grassroots membership organization composed of over 40,000 low-income members in all five boroughs of New York City, Yonkers, Poughkeepsie, and Newburgh. CVH organizes to fight for quality jobs, good housing, and a democracy that is responsive to our communities. More at www.CVHaction.org, www.Facebook.com/CVHaction and www.Twitter.com/CVHaction. ***
This press release is also available here.
|Signed Statement against Workfare-allsigs_May9_.pdf||104.93 KB|