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Workfare Demo-New York
an organization of WEP workers, people on welfare and supporters
39 West 14 Street, Suite 206, New York, NY 10011,
Phone (212) 633-6646, Fax (212) 633-2889
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Greg Butterfield, (212) 633-6646
Attention: Assignment Editor
August 12, 1998
Workfare workers plan mass jobs march in New York Aug. 22
"Second anniversary of welfare reform law is the real scandal,"
Calling for "Dignity, respect, & real jobs, not workfare," New York
City workfare participants are planning a massive march on Saturday,
Aug. 22. Workfairness, the organizers of the march, predict it will be
the largest-ever protest of workfare workers and people on welfare.
The march's demands include: "End workfare slavery"; "Union rights for
workfare workers"; "Equal pay for equal work"; "Stop forcing young
people out of college to do workfare"; "Stop replacing union workers
with workfare workers"; "Stop harassing people on welfare."
The event marks the second anniversary of President Clinton's signing
of the welfare reform law. Organizers say the law's repeal of federal
guarantees of assistance to the poor have meant growing poverty,
homelessness, and inequality for millions of families.
Vondora Jordan, a WEP worker and mother of two who is Co-chair of
Workfairness, said: "All the media and official Washington are focused
on whatever did or didn't happen between President Clinton and Monica
Lewinsky. We say: Why isn't there a special prosecutor appointed to
investigate the effects of welfare reform on poor and hungry children?
That is the real scandal."
The march and rally will focus on New York City Hall, where Mayor
Rudolph Giuliani runs the nation's biggest forced-labor workfare
program. Giuliani announced July 20 his plans to "end welfare by the
end of the century" by vastly expanding workfare into the private
sector. More than 40,000 people, many of them single parents with
young children, participate in the Work Experience Program, as New
York's main workfare program is known.
WEP workers charge that the program--seen as a national model for
other cities implementing workfare--has nothing to do with job
training or real jobs, and everything to do with exploiting workers
who receive no paycheck and have no rights. They say the burden falls
hardest on people of color, who have traditionally been shut out of
many employment opportunities.
Workfairness, an organization representing more than 5,000 WEP
workers, called for the march. The New York event caps a week of
protests around the nation marking the second anniversary of the
welfare law, organized by the Welfare Warriors and other groups.
The New York march is being supported by major labor organizations,
including AFSCME District Council 37, which represents more than
100,000 city employees, and by national leaders of AFSCME. Other
endorsers include the Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.,
Organization of Staff Analysts, the Rev. Calvin Butts, Welfare Law
Center, the Latino Workers Center, and the New York Taxi Workers
Jordan said, "This will be the biggest demonstration against an
insidious national policy of slave labor. If the alliance of anti-poor
Republicans and Democrats is allowed to carry out this policy, it will
undermine the efforts of low-wage workers to organize into unions. It
will lower everyone's wages by forcing millions of desperately poor
people into the job market. And this is exactly what its bipartisan
supporters want to happen."
Organizers say that the Aug. 22 march is the beginning of a national
movement to overturn workfare, and an opportunity to rally the many
communities and sectors in New York who have come under attack by the
Protesters will gather starting at 1p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 22, at city
hall. For more information, or to arrange an interview with workfare
organizers, call Workfairness at (212) 633-6646.
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