[HPN] Fw: NY, NELP: NYC Enacts Jobs Program!
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
non-profit employers. To the credit of the organizing groups
the City's program goes further than any other similar initiative
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
week), workplace, anti-displacement and organizing rights. In
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
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
public sector union (DC 37, AFSCME) under its new leadership
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
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
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
dilute the program or drop it altogether.
In addition to the labor/community relationships developed out
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
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
member of CVH. In the not-so-distant future, when it comes to
Senate race or the position of candidates who are now putting
platforms as they run for Mayor, there's a program in place
provide a yardstick to measure where these folks stand on welfare
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
Council enacted until the courts said he HAD to implement the
now we have a citywide recycling program. So, it may take a
but the program will be up and running, if not in the next six
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
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
campaign, we've also prepared a press release that is targeted
press, focusing on transitional jobs as a model being adopted
country (http://www.nelp.org/pr033000.htm) . There's also our
support of the legislation, which discusses more of the specifics
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,
Again, hats off to all the great folks who worked on the City
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
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
program on grounds that it had been selected through negotiations
cronyism and favoritism. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani retorted that
the talks had
been fair and lawful, and his office said he would sue to force
to approve the contract. The legal issues will need to be sorted
prosecutors and the courts. Meanwhile a more fundamental struggle
way, between the mayor and the City Council, over the best way
workfare clients into permanent jobs.
Mayor Giuliani should not have vetoed a worthwhile experiment
the Council for providing wage-paying jobs for a small number
of people on
public assistance. The small-scale, temporary program warrants
The mayor has created the largest workfare program in the country,
tens of thousands of welfare recipients to work cleaning parks
other unskilled work for the city in exchange for welfare checks.
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.
belated attempt to ease the transition to work, the mayor has
contracts with for-profit and nonprofit groups to find permanent
people on public assistance. But there he has run into opposition
Comptroller Hevesi, who says the contracts require competitive
negotiations flawed by favoritism.
The Council's experiment is attractive. It would subsidize city
community-based organizations to create a total of 2,500 jobs.
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
for federal tax credits, making it possible to raise an individual's
cash and benefits from about $9,000 under workfare up to about
the Council bill. The Council program would require participants
undertake an average of eight hours a week in training and would
case manager to help them solve work problems and find permanent
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
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
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
after the Council's expected override of his veto, to give the
experiment a real shot to succeed.
March 13, 2000
Wanted: A City Welfare Jobs Program With a Future
BY: Sheryl McCarthy. Sheryl McCarthy's e-mail address is email@example.com
EDITION: NASSAU AND SUFFOLK
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
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 be working off their welfare checks, but the payoff was
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
rolls from 1.1 million to fewer than 600,000, of which 350,000
the 250,000 adults who remain, about 45,000 at any time are
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
her second WEP job, doing office work at a Medicaid office.
who come to the office to the right person or office to handle
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
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
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
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
as one does for a regular job. They would earn $7.50 an hour,
Medicaid benefits and city-paid child care. With the federal
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
their resumes than saying they had been working off their welfare
WEP. The estimated cost to the city for three years would be
the rest coming from New York's $2-billion surplus in federal
"This is the next phase of welfare reform," DiBrienza said,
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
hasn't done a serious study of what's become of all these people.
they don't want to know? The city urgently needs to collect
on what happens to former welfare recipient WEP workers.
The mayor will hold public hearings on the transitional jobs
He's expected to veto it, arguing that it only would extend
But City Hall recently proposed spending $470 million on contracts
companies to find private-sector jobs for welfare recipients.
spending so much on headhunters, why not spend $9.5 million
to create 7,500
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