The city is spending half a billion a year to place out-of-work New Yorkers in low-wage jobs - and it's time to stop, Mayor de Blasio said on Tuesday.
De Blasio, speaking at a thriving manufacturing hub in Brooklyn, announced plans to revamp all of the city's employment training programs, which he said do little to prepare would-be workers with good-paying jobs to help alleviate the income gap.
"We don't want to place people in minimum wage jobs," de Blasio said. "That's not what we came here to do."
He is creating a 30-member "Jobs For New Yorkers" task force - which includes labor, business and non-profit heads - that will help shift the city's focus towards finding employment in high paid jobs, as opposed to lower-paid gigs.
Studies have shown that even as New York's job growth has inched up since the great recession, many of the jobs created have been in low-paid sectors - like hospitality and tourism - while at the same time spots in high-paying fields have shrank.
"In the past, there's been a temptation to tout achievements in terms of job training and placement, but when you looked a little more closely some folks were in those jobs for three months, or six months or nine months and then they were out of them," de Blasio said. "That's not acceptable to us. We want jobs that people can stick with, that a family can grow with. That's what this task force will focus on."
In September, the task force will give de Blasio a report recommending specific initiatives the city can do to train and place the out-of-work in sectors that have jobs, and pay well - like tech, manufacturing, and accounting.
Leaders of the task force include Cesar Claro of the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation, Jukay Hsu, founder of the Coalition for Queens, and Vincent Alvarez, the president of the New York Central Labor Council.
Mayor Bloomberg used to brag about the placements people received through his jobs placement programs, but as with much else about Bloomberg's tenure as mayor, when you took a closer look at his actual "accomplishments," you saw that they were phony:
New York City’s Department of Investigation (DOI) has reported that, of 6,500 job placements claimed by Seedco, 1,400 were fraudulent. That is, those who had purportedly been helped by the nonprofit were either still jobless or they had found jobs on their own without Seedco’s help. The DOI report says that Seedco “developed systematic practices to report false placements.” One of the most remarkable findings is that Seedco got the city’s approval for shredding job placement documents for the period of 2008 to February 2011, so the actual number of fraudulent job placements might be much higher.
If you want to see an example of the courage of a whistleblower, look to Bill Harper, a former deputy director at Seedco. In August of last year, Michael Powell of the New York Times first reported about Harper’s allegations that SEEDCO was falsifying reports of job placements for its performance on city government contracts. At the time, Powell said that Seedco tried to sully Harper’s reputation and claimed to have conducted an audit that found only 60 fraudulent job placements compared to Harper’s count of 400. A month later, Powell was back reporting on new allegations about Seedco’s job placement accomplishments. This time around, both the city oversight agencies and Seedco itself were less defensive and dismissive, and Seedco promised corrective actions such as reviews and retraining of staff.
Though Seedco’s relatively new senior management is promising to make additional changes, the new charges are obviously not good news for the organization. Powell reports that federal prosecutors are looking at Seedco’s job placement contracts and the city has announced that it will take away Seedco’s $7 million annual contract and give it to a different nonprofit.
Why did a great and respected nonprofit allegedly get involved in this kind of behavior? According to Powell’s article, “The employees at Seedco…described a culture of unrelenting pressure from the Bloomberg administration to produce data showing that the job placement effort was working. Each year, city officials increased the targets for placements, even in the midst of a deep recession. The city required contract agencies to give weekly, monthly and quarterly reports of progress. City officials graded their progress, giving good marks to those with high numbers of placements, and poor grades to those that fell behind.” Staff reported that managers pressured them to fake job placements and learned tricks for fabricating job placement reports.
Under Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the city has emphasized performance-based contracting, making Seedco’s competition for new contracts, such as a contract for a new workforce center in the Bronx that it wanted at the time, dependent on showing the numbers. Faking the reports had reportedly become part of Seedco’s organizational culture of responding to Bloomberg’s city hall pressure.
Of course that's one of the past jobs programs de Blasio is alluding to when he announced his jobs program task force.
Classic Bloomberg criminality- and yet, many people in this city still think he was a great mayor.