March 3, 2015
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Not the jobs program that the fictitious president of the United States Frank Underwood introduced in the newest House of Cards series, but an employment services provider who doesn’t want to hire union workers who are being let go by another firm that is going bankrupt!
The Federation Employment & Guidance Service agency abruptly announced last month that it is going bankrupt after opening its doors in 1934. The agency has been providing and helping different kinds of folk such as returning veterans and individuals with disabilities find jobs in the private sector. According to a recent report in Capital New York, city auditors discovered a $19.4 million shortfall in its budget.
As a result of the shortfall, FEGS will be closing its doors by the end of the month, and the 72 state and city contracts FEGS won for employment assistance are being dispersed to other providers such as American Works.
About 1,400 of FEGS’ social service workers are represented by AFSCME District 1707 Local 215. In the accompanying video, we interviewed Lorraine Guest, Local 215’s president, to find out whether America Works can be compelled by the city to rehire the majority of the members.
“We have 45 people working at FEGS right now, but they are going to lose their jobs by March 31 if America Works doesn’t hire them. The company is telling them to apply for the job through a temp agency. The city is telling us that it cannot compel America Works or other similar agencies to hire a union workforce. But we will be speaking soon with Steven Banks [Human Resources Administration Commissioner] and Lilliam Barrios-Paoli [Deputy Mayor] and we hope they can push them to do the right thing,” said Guest.
Guest has been an employee with FEGS for 25 years and she can’t believe that after working hard for all those years America Works is telling her there is no job guarantee for her or her colleagues and the members she represents.
“We did a damn good job, so for them to just dismiss us and kick us to the curb is just wrong,” Guest said.