Resist Uncle Sam Scams: welfareQUEENs Report--Stimulus Fund short-term jobs must better support poor parents!

POOR correspondent - Posted on 30 June 2010

Vivian Hain/PNN
Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It’s been a little over two years since I graduated with my B.A. degree in Humanities Public Policy while surviving on welfare with my three young daughters, thinking that not only would I be able to help change the world for the better, but to also have the sole ability to pull my family out of poverty and get a stable living wage job.

But, today here I am, after working several part-time and insecure jobs, being kicked on and off welfare with no safety net beneath my family and in debt with a huge college loan, while currently on unemployment, getting only $30 more than I did on welfare after being laid off by a local welfare rights ‘non-profit’ job, who claimed they couldn’t ‘afford’ to keep me employed as a ‘part-time intern’ wondering if I will ever find a stable living wage job.

And now, it seems that several predatory non-profit organizations and job finder agencies in an effort to reach their quota are trying to force me into ‘low-wage and unstable’ jobs funded by the ‘Jobs Now’ program, recently implemented by the President Obama Administration with federal stimulus funding, which is supposed to help poor folks like me transition into a stable living wage job.

Or… Is it just a temporary ‘band-aid’ fix?

Presently, the Living Wage Coalition, a San Francisco-based labor rights non-profit organization is working on a campaign to ensure that the Jobs Now stimulus funding provide jobs for its participants on welfare (a.k.a. CalWORKS in California), who are currently in the San Francisco ‘Community Jobs’ program for fair wages and equal opportunity and access to stable employment.

Currently, the San Francisco Community Jobs program has limited enrollment spaces and a cap on the amount of work hours allowed per week. Participants cannot exceed 32 hours per week, which does not allow them to accrue enough hours to qualify for city and/or county jobs in San Francisco, which socially and economically marginalized them.

In addition, participants can not exceed earning the hourly wage of $11.03 per hour, even though in 2008, amendments were implemented in city legislation with advocacy from the Living Wage Coalition for all Community Jobs participants to get a cost-of-living wage increase of $11.57 an hour, yet the San Francisco Human Services Agency has not implemented this policy, which impedes the true ability of these participants, who are parents like me, that are playing by the rules to leave welfare and transition into the work force. Unfortunately, non-profit organizations can defer paying this cost-of-living increase wage to participants in this program.

Karl Kramer, Campaign Co-Director of the San Francisco Living Wage Coalition states that: “Large corporations are being virtually subsidized with tax dollars to have free labor”. He is campaigning for immediate demands that the San Francisco Community Jobs program extend it’s work experience program one more year, as participants are required to have a minimum of one-year work experience in order to qualify and compete for entry-level city civil service jobs, with the exception that these demands would not displace existing unionized city workers.

Other demands also include the increasing the 32-hour work week to a 40-hour work week He would also like to see a gradual annual pay increase in this program which would eventually scale up to a living wage with job security, as today, a single parent with one child must earn a minimum of $30.00 an hour in order to afford the cost-of-living in San Francisco.

Currently, the Obama sponsored ‘Jobs Now’ program stimulus funding, which helps fund the San Francisco Community Jobs program is only going to last until September 2010, although participants need time to successfully complete three tiers within the program, such as participating in the Community Jobs program, becoming a public service trainee and earning a wage subsidy while working for CalWORKs participants, yet the problem is that the limited funding for this program is also being used for non-CalWORKs participants, limiting the chances of CalWORKs parents like me to transition off welfare with a stable living wage job.

In addition, the Living Wage Coalition is campaigning in support of a current legislative proposal for a one-year extension of Obama’s Jobs Now stimulus funding for participants in the San Francisco Community Jobs program in an effort to give them more job training and equal access to qualifying for entry-level city job opportunities even though there are many challenges and multiple social and economic barriers that CalWORKs participants in the San Francisco Community Jobs program are currently facing.

Jaquayla Burton, a San Francisco Community Jobs program participant on CalWORKs, feels that this program may not get her a stable living wage job opportunity, for she had to wait an entire month before this program was able to find her job placement, because of limited program enrollment and job placement openings. “Six months of work experience in this program does not give you enough experience to go forward and get a decent job, for in order for anyone qualify for entry-level city jobs in San Francisco with job security, you need a one-year minimum of work experience”, she stated.

Carla Lopez, another San Francisco Community Jobs program participant currently on CalWORKs since March 2010 was able to find a job immediately in this program, although the job itself did not offer future prospect in her transition to stable employment. Three weeks later, she found another job that would help train her for the job skills she needed for living wage work, but her job may terminate in September 2010. Carla stated, “I really don’t know where I’m going to be in six months from now.”

Well, Ms. Hain, you seem to have discovered that the claims of the "President Obama Administration" to be on the side of the poor and working class are completely bogus. And yet, I'd be willing to bet real money that you intend to vote for him again this November. Good luck with that.

Seriously, Viv? I don't even know what that is, but it sounds akin to Underwater Basket Weaving. Did you research job prospects before choosing your major?


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