[HPN] Fw: NY, NELP: NYC Enacts Jobs Program!

SuperNOFA 2000 icanamerica@email.msn.com
Wed, 5 Apr 2000 20:22:37 -0500

NYC Enacts Jobs Program!

It's official!  The New York City Council has passed the Transitional
Program, overriding the Mayor's veto of the legislation.

There's now a program on the books requiring the City to create
subsidized wage-paying jobs for welfare recipients with public
sector and
non-profit employers.  To the credit of the organizing groups
the City's program goes further than any other similar initiative
in the
country when it comes to key elements of the program, including
the wage of
the workers ($7.50/hour minimum or the wage “comparable” to other
the length of the program (12 months), access to training (8
hours per
week), workplace, anti-displacement and organizing rights.  In
contrast to
workfare, the workers also qualify for the EITC.  From the beginning,
organizers made clear that this had to be a program that low-income
would rally around, and that it had to meet the minimal economic
needs of
low-income families to get by in New York City.

As most folks know, this program came about because it focused
on a positive
alternative to the workfare program that brought together the
City's largest
public sector union (DC 37, AFSCME) under its new leadership
with the
grassroots groups organizing around workfare issues (the Fifth
Committee and Community Voices Heard especially).   After working
on the campaign for almost two years, strong working relationships
have now
developed among the unions, the organizing groups and the advocates.
New York City, at least, this was something of a breakthrough,
which is now
leading to more joint work on other economic issues (e.g., a
spinoff from
the jobs coalition has been formed, called the Alliance for a
Economy).  Also key to the success of the campaign was the legislative
sponsor, Stephen DiBrienza, who never once gave in to lots of
pressure to
dilute the program or drop it altogether.

In addition to the labor/community relationships developed out
of this
campaign and the organizing successes, the campaign also succeeded
generating lots of  favorable press as it got closer to the time
of the City
Council vote (thanks, in large part, to the fact that the Speaker
made his
support clear, which is why the vote was scheduled).  As a result,
campaign successfully created a debate in New York City over
the merits of
the Mayor's workfare program and alternative model programs being
around the country.  Below are several of the favorable press
including a New York Times editorial endorsing the program, an
authored by the Speaker of the City Council, and another op-ed
profiling a
member of CVH.  In the not-so-distant future, when it comes to
the Mayor's
Senate race or the position of candidates who are now putting
together their
platforms as they run for Mayor,  there's a program in place
that will
provide a yardstick to measure where these folks stand on welfare
and other
key economic issues.

Right now, the Mayor is saying  “I don't know how they can force
me to fill
those jobs”, meaning he has no plans to implement the program.
the Mayor said the same thing about the recycling program that
the City
Council enacted until the courts said he HAD to implement the
program.  And
now we have a citywide recycling program.  So, it may take a
little while,
but the program will be up and running, if not in the next six
months (when
the bill says it has to be), then in the next year or so when
a court says
so and/or there's a new Mayor.  In the end, given all the other
results that came out of the campaign, most people feel like
the wait is
well worth it.  We can also make some hay out of the Mayor's
refusal to
implement the program as a way to keep these issues on the table.

Hope this information is helpful for folks to get a feel for
the City jobs
campaign and how the program came together.  For more information
on the
campaign, we've also prepared a press release that is targeted
to national
press, focusing on transitional jobs as a model being adopted
around the
country (http://www.nelp.org/pr033000.htm) .  There's also our
testimony in
support of the legislation, which discusses more of the specifics
of the
program (http://www.nelp.org/pub12.htm).  Folks should also know
there's another effort underway to build on last year's semi-success
getting a $13 million pilot jobs program through the State Legislature.
This year, the Legislature has proposed an additional $24 million
for a jobs
program, thanks to the labor/community alliance working on the
campaign (CVH, AFL-CIO, Fiscal Policy Institute, NELP, HANNYS,
and others).

Again, hats off to all the great folks who worked on the City

Maurice Emsellem
National Employment Law Project
55 John Street, 7th Floor
New York, NY  10038
(212) 285-3025, ext. 106
(212) 285-3044 (fax)

City Council Speaker Vallone wrote the following op-ed that appeared
in the
February 18th New York Post:
Finding Jobs for Welfare Clients
New York Times
Mar 23, 2000
The battle over New York City's welfare-to-work program escalated
when City Comptroller Alan Hevesi rejected the largest contractor
for the
program on grounds that it had been selected through negotiations
flawed by
cronyism and favoritism. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani retorted that
the talks had
been fair and lawful, and his office said he would sue to force
Mr.  Hevesi
to approve the contract. The legal issues will need to be sorted
out by
prosecutors and the courts. Meanwhile a more fundamental struggle
is under
way, between the mayor and the City Council, over the best way
to guide
workfare clients into permanent jobs.
Mayor Giuliani should not have vetoed a worthwhile experiment
approved by
the Council for providing wage-paying jobs for a small number
of people on
public assistance. The small-scale, temporary program warrants
a vigorous
trial run.
The mayor has created the largest workfare program in the country,
tens of thousands of welfare recipients to work cleaning parks
and doing
other unskilled work for the city in exchange for welfare checks.
But the
program does relatively little to help recipients train for and
permanent jobs. No one knows for sure how former recipients are
because the city irresponsibly refuses to monitor their progress.
In a
belated attempt to ease the transition to work, the mayor has
contracts with for-profit and nonprofit groups to find permanent
jobs for
people on public assistance.  But there he has run into opposition
Comptroller Hevesi, who says the contracts require competitive
bidding, not
negotiations flawed by favoritism.
The Council's experiment is attractive. It would subsidize city
agencies and
community-based organizations to create a total of 2,500 jobs.
The program
would last three years, and would limit each individual's participation
one year. In effect, the Council would substitute a paycheck
for a welfare
check for a total of 7,500 people over three years.
This approach has several advantages. The participants would
become eligible
for federal tax credits, making it possible to raise an individual's
cash and benefits from about $9,000 under workfare up to about
$18,000 under
the Council bill. The Council program would require participants
undertake an average of eight hours a week in training and would
provide a
case manager to help them solve work problems and find permanent
jobs.  The
Council estimates that its program would cost the city about
$3 million a
The administration says the figure is closer to $50 million.
It also says
that the Council's program would create make-work jobs and encourage
dependence by paying participants more money than private companies
pay for
comparable work, discouraging them from leaving welfare. But
a program that
limits people to one year of subsidized work hardly invites long-term
Experience over the past 20 years provides little support for
the mayor's
optimism about workfare. Programs that put welfare recipients
wage-paying jobs with case management and other types of support
produced somewhat better results in raising earnings and employment,
at substantially more cost. These reasons alone should compel
Mr. Giuliani,
after the Council's expected override of his veto, to give the
experiment a real shot to succeed.
Newsday Article
March 13, 2000

Wanted: A City Welfare Jobs Program With a Future
 BY:  Sheryl McCarthy. Sheryl McCarthy's e-mail address is mccart731@aol.com
 SECTION: Viewpoints
 DATE:  03-13-2000

 WHEN New York City began its Work Experience Program five
 years ago, it was supposed to be the upbeat part of welfare

 The city would put welfare recipients in city jobs that served
 taxpayers-cleaning sidewalks, sprucing up parks, doing clerical
work in
 agencies. They would have to get up in the morning, arrive at
work on time,
 take orders from a supervisor, punch a time clock and be responsible
 individuals in a way they hadn't been in a while. Otherwise,
they'd lose

 They'd be working off their welfare checks, but the payoff was
they'd get
 experience that would help them find real jobs.

 The jury is out on how successful WEP has been, but the word
on the street
 isn't good. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani boasts about reducing the
city's welfare
 rolls from 1.1 million to fewer than 600,000, of which 350,000
children. Of
  the 250,000 adults who remain, about 45,000 at any time are
in WEP.

 But present and former WEP workers complain about mindless work
 poor and even hazardous working conditions, being bounced in
and out of the
 program for arbitrary reasons and losing weeks of their benefits,
  no skills that could help them in their job search.

 Tyletha Samuels, 43, who's been a WEP worker for more than six
months, is
 her second WEP job, doing office work at a Medicaid office.
She directs
 who come to the office to the right person or office to handle
their needs.
  previous job, at a Bronx welfare center, was answering the

 "When WEP came in I was happy," Samuels told me. "I figured
I could go and
  in an office and get some office skills. But the 'E' that was
supposed to
 stand for experience isn't there. I already know how to answer
a phone. I
 already know how to show people into an office. I don't think
I can get a
 on the basis of doing that."

 "Put me on a computer. If you show me how to do it, I'm capable
of doing
it. I
 want to work, but the experience, the most important part of
 people are not getting."

 The New York City Council has overwhelmingly passed a bill creating
 Transitional Jobs Program, which would do what WEP was supposed
to do.
  in January, 2001, it would create 2,500 jobs a year for three
 two-thirds of them with city agencies and a third with nonprofit

 The jobs would last for 12 months. Welfare recipients would
compete for
 as one does for a regular job. They would earn $7.50 an hour,
and keep
 Medicaid benefits and city-paid child care. With the federal
earned income
 credit for poor working families, this would lift them out of

 City Councilman Stephen DiBrienza, the bill's sponsor, says
 are necessary because welfare reform has whittled down the welfare
 to the hardest to employ with the fewest skills.

 These jobs, he says would provide real job training and would
look better
 their resumes than saying they had been working off their welfare
checks in
 WEP. The estimated cost to the city for three years would be
$9.5 million,
  the rest coming from New York's $2-billion surplus in federal
and state
 welfare money.

 "This is the next phase of welfare reform," DiBrienza said,
"moving from
 working off their welfare checks to earning a paycheck for 12

 The burning question about welfare reform is how well the people
 off welfare are doing. The Giuliani administration doesn't know
because it
 hasn't done a serious study of what's become of all these people.
Is it
  they don't want to know? The city urgently needs to collect
some serious
 on what happens to former welfare recipient WEP workers.

 The mayor will hold public hearings on the transitional jobs
program today.
 He's expected to veto it, arguing that it only would extend
  But City Hall recently proposed spending $470 million on contracts
for 17
 companies to find private-sector jobs for welfare recipients.
Instead of
 spending so much on headhunters, why not spend $9.5 million
to create 7,500

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