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New Haven Works Sets Up Shop

by Paul Bass | Dec 6, 2012 1:02 pm

(28) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Business/ Economic Development, Labor, Jobs Pipeline

Paul Bass Photo It’s not open yet to meet job-seekers, but New Haven’s emerging “pipeline” has a new office, interim chief and bylaws.

Organizers of the pipeline—a year-long effort so far to funnel unemployed and underemployed New Haveners into existing jobs—took important first steps Wednesday to making their effort official.

They’ve incorporated an organization called New Haven Works. Meeting over lunch in the Chamber of Commerce’s board room, the group’s directors voted to approve a set of bylaws. They reviewed a working six-month budget to get the group off the ground. They reviewed a proposed two-year budget—$1.16 million the first year, $1.493 million the next—to present to potential funders. Click here and here to read the two budgets.

Also on Wednesday, the board’s members approved having the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven serve as the organization’s fiscal sponsor so the organization can start collecting money while it pursues approval of not-for-profit status. And they accepted two offers of free office space: first temporary space to inhabit immediately at the United Way’s 360 James St. complex; then 4,800 square feet of longer-term space Yale is building out for the organization at 205 Whitney.

The group has hired an interim executive director, Mary Reynolds, to set up that office and begin hiring a six-person staff (including herself).

The ultimate goal is to assemble a pool of job-ready underemployed and unemployed New Haveners to link up with local employers, then to follow up with both the job-seekers and the employers about why the applicants do or don’t land the jobs. New Haven has an estimated 13,000 unemployed and underemployed adults. New Haven anticipates having over 22,000 new jobs open up thanks to new development projects (including Gateway Community College and Downtown Crossing) and the booming medical-related sector. Some existing employers say they have openings but have trouble find city people ready to fill the jobs.

The pipeline/New Haven Works organization grows out of last fall’s elections, when labor-backed candidates won a majority on New Haven’s Board of Aldermen. That led to the formation of the pipeline group that formed New Haven Works. It brought together elected officials, the unions, the Chamber of Commerce, and major employers.

They were all represented in the board room at Wednesday’s meeting. Board of Aldermen President Jorge Perez (pictured), who ran the meeting, serves as the new organization’s board president. Chamber of Commerce prez Anthony Rescigno was there, too; he was elected as New Haven Works’ board secretary Wednesday. Yale-New Haven Hospital Vice-President Vin Petrini, Yale Vice-President Bruce Alexander, Greater New Haven Central Labor Council President Bob Proto, and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano were also among those in the room who have played an active role in the group.

Before they approved the bylaws, DeStefano asked why no requirement was spelled out that New Haven Works itself hire only New Haveners for its staff jobs.

“Isn’t that why we’re here?” he asked.

The group amended the bylaws to require that the organize hire exclusively from the city.

The group’s initial $442,100 six-month working budget includes $178,000 in in-kind donations, including the rent as well as some of the staff positions. UNITE/HERE, the union representing Yale workers, is paying Reynolds’ $70,000 annual salary as well as the data coordinator and “research and communications coordinator” positions, at least at first. (Reynolds, who has worked for UNITE/HERE for five years, is on leave from the union to do the New Haven Works job.) That leaves $264,100 to raise. The two-year budget would also presumably include some in-kind contributions, as well, but also a combined total of $1 million or more to raise.

“Do we know where we’re going to get” all that money? DeStefano asked.

“Not at this point,” Perez responded. Reynolds has met with major employers and charitable funders like the Community Foundation to discuss potential financial support. And “there is a possibility that the state will be a major player,” Perez said, noting that it already funds a similar effort in Hartford. State money would presumably come from already existing labor-related funds and from federal jobs money that passes through Connecticut, Perez said.

One question that has hovered above the discussions about creating New Haven Works: Is a new costly bureaucracy being created to duplicate work already been done at existing agencies like the Workforce Alliance’s “CT Works” center on the Boulevard? During public hearings about the jobs pipeline, people spoke of difficulties getting jobs by going through that organization. Some participants have asked whether the pipeline effort should focus on changing that organization if it indeed has problems rather than creating a new one.

New Haven Works has a somewhat different mission in two key ways, according to both Rescigno (pictured) and Perez: It will focus on job-seekers exclusively from New Haven, not from the 30 cities and towns covered by the Workforce Alliance. And it will focus intensively on case management. A staffer will follow a job-seeker through the process of finding day care or courses or needed training (including with the Workforce Alliance). The case manager will also follow up with both the applicant and the employer after connecting them for interviews for specific jobs the employers need filled. The idea is to find out why someone may or may have landed a job.

DeStefano noted that the Workforce Alliance’s money comes with restrictions on which people the agency can help. Also it’s largely a “training program,” he said; New Haven Works will focus on “case management,” shepherding job-seekers through the process from beginning to end. At meeting’s end he, Rescigno, Reynolds, and Petrini made a plan to meet with the Alliance’s director.

New Haven city government did a trial run for the concept behind New Haven Works earlier this year. It asked employers to come to a job fair in February at Career High. And it got hundreds of New Haveners prepared to interview for the employers’ open jobs. The event itself drew 200 job-seekers. But the administration never followed up to see if it worked. This summer it hired a consultant, Elyse Lyons, to start compiling data, a mayoral spokeswoman said at the time, but the contract ran out and the report was never finished.

Click here for a queue of previous Independent stories about the emerging jobs pipeline.

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posted by: anonymous on December 6, 2012  1:15pm

“Before they approved the bylaws, DeStefano asked why no requirement was spelled out that New Haven Works itself hire only New Haveners for its staff jobs. “Isn’t that why we’re here?” he asked.”

BRAVO.  Can we take more of that approach to everything in the city?  The city, and the Unions, are like a parasite if they do not at least partially take this approach. 

The “jobs pipeline” is the wrong approach, in part, because it will just facilitate this parasitic relationship.  Once people find jobs through it, they will most likely move themselves and their higher pay out to the suburbs. 

It is a great example of a band-aid approach that, since it doesn’t address the root of our problems, may actually make them worse.

The proportion of the City budget that is raised from our low income renters via the property tax, and then exported to suburban union workers each year, is massive. 

Yale has begun to fix this by providing enormous incentives for its employees to live within the City (instead of, for example, choosing to pay its workers the difference) - why can’t others follow suit?

posted by: Curious on December 6, 2012  1:55pm

So how does this directly benefit existing members of Local 34?

Why are their dues being spent on this woman’s salary?

posted by: streever on December 6, 2012  3:23pm

Patronage.

Reynolds was appointed to the Ward 10 Committee when my neighbor, Ray Saracco, stepped down, although we requested that neighbor Rebecca Turcio be appointed.

Reynolds, who has never attended a ward committee meeting even though she was on the Donahue/Saracco ward committee, is now co-chair and was hired by her union friends to run their new office.

Although it is not yet funded and has no concrete objective, the “Jobs Pipeline” is providing a new job to a bureaucrat who is carrying water for them.

That Gwen Mills and Mary Reynolds do not understand why this is wrong is no surprise to me.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on December 6, 2012  4:00pm

Clarify:
oh and Rebecca Turcio is me Cedar Hill Resident so you all know I am active. And this is one of the reasons I have not really been posting here. (come to your own conclusions on that comment)

posted by: Webblog1 on December 6, 2012  5:23pm

DeStefano noted that the Workforce Alliance’s money comes with restrictions on which people the agency can help. Also it’s largely a “training program,” he said; New Haven Works will focus on “case management,” shepherding job-seekers through the process from beginning to end. At meeting’s end he, Rescigno, Reynolds, and Petrini made a plan to meet with the Alliance’s director.

You be the judge to the veracity of the Mayor’s statement above.

See work force alliance’s mission here:


http://www.workforcealliance.biz/Downloads/WA-PLAN.pdf

posted by: Walt on December 6, 2012  5:32pm

As a Hamdenite I often wonder why the State should finance an efforCTwhich results in fellow Hamdenites being frozen out of jobs even though they may be more qualified


City Hall has for many years,  going way back to Dick Lee,  or earlier pushed unsuccessfully for a requirement that the President of the Chamber of Commerce be required to live in New Haven, even though it represents members in the whole region, not just   the City.

Fortunately the City Hall efforts have been rejected so far and I believe Mr.Rescigno still lives in North Haven despite his involvement   in this program.

Bill Villano’s outfit on the Boulevard is still funded by the State and still can’t work   for City residents only (I hope)

Plus Anon,s claim that new City job holders will head for the suburbs for better living once they make and save a few bucks appears true

This deal looks like another boondoggle so far.

The main problems as I see it are the poor general economy and the lack of qualified candidates among City residents for the jobs that do exist,

Would these same folk complain if CTt
Transit ot Q College hired only Hamdenites or the stores on Universal Drive .only North Haveners etc.?

Sorry, no optimistic solution.  Just skepticism

posted by: anonymous on December 6, 2012  5:48pm

Walt - that tradeoff might be a good thing, considering that there are around 80,000 jobs in New Haven and only 50,000 New Haven residents who work.

If residents could only work in their town, then the unemployment rate would be negative in New Haven, and somewhere around 40% in the suburbs.

Consider that the City of New Haven’s biggest “expense” by far isn’t the school system—it’s catering to the suburban residents who comprise 80% of citywide’s workforce, for example, providing land for huge highways through its neighborhoods (forgetting the interests of children who live there), and giving free space for all of the workers to park that could otherwise have been used to generate taxes…

Despite all this, the Mayor, Chamber, Board, and others have somehow been convinced that giving New Haveners high paying union jobs—so that they immediately can afford to move to the suburbs—is the only way to fix the problems we have.  They are in for a rude awakening.  What they are doing will actually make the situation for New Haven residents worse.

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on December 6, 2012  8:07pm

“UNITE/HERE, the union representing Yale workers, is paying Reynolds’ $70,000 annual salary as well as the data coordinator and ‘research and communications coordinator’ positions”. A success! The pipeline already has created three jobs!

posted by: Walt on December 7, 2012  6:58am

Anon

Many members of the Chamber may be a bit upset if they take your comment that Mr Rescigno is touting increased Union jobs, seriously,

His interest is, and should be mainly improving the economy as a whole, and the other goals of the Chamber’s members, not pushing for unionization.

Your “giving free space to workers”  comment does not ring true either .

As I recall when I worked (yes,  and lived in suburbia)  in New Haven,  parking was paid either by the employee or employer or subsidized by other businesses, mostly retailers,  never directly by the City,

(Indirect subsidy by the Parking Authority for some, it is true)

My parking under 195   Church St. cost $75 per month back then——must be a fortune now)


As to parking being a waste,  using space that otherwise would produce taxes, you forget that private parking areas,  either as a business, or as an adjunct to provide parking for employees,  pays taxes on the property used and also provides   a necessary service as the businesses involved could not function without parking for employees and customers

posted by: Walt on December 7, 2012  11:57am

Added to be fair

The Yale Union and the Central Labor Council seem to have similar conflict- of- interest issues as   the Chamber does, to work for the interests of their own members.

That they are working together on this project is good news for some folks, 

That they   allowed themselves to be pressured by the Mayor into appearing to be controlled   by the City may not be so great in the long- run,  for the organizations involved

Agreeing to blackball their own   members for the top jobs in the new organization may (probably will?)  create dissent.


We shall see!!

posted by: accountability on December 7, 2012  12:47pm

I’m always struck by the disconnect between the facts on the record and the fact-free anti-union rantings of some commenters here.

Fact: Workforce Alliance fails to place most participants in full time jobs, and the average wages paid to those who do get jobs of any kind are near minimum wage.

Fact: Yale University and Local 34 negotiated an agreement in their contract that created enforceable bidding rights for graduates of a new jobs pipeline program in the City of New Haven. That program has now been created and is called New Haven Works.

Fact: Those bidding rights do not apply to all job openings, but to certain entry level jobs for which Yale will create apprenticeship programs and to jobs that will be created from positions previously been filled by casual and temp workers.

Fact: Those bidding rights are subordinate to the rights of existing Local 34 members,so that members are not disadvantaged, but most of the jobs will open up to New Haven Works candidates because they are either lateral moves or demotions for most Local 34 members.

Fact: Local 34 members benefit because the apprenticeships are expected to open up opportunities for existing employees to mentor and train New Haven Works graduates, strengthening their own skills.

Fact: Yale has committed in writing to increasing the percentage of New Haven residents hired into Local 34 jobs.

Fact: That will still leave the majority of new hires from the suburbs.

Fact: no union and no employer in the United States have gone anywhere near as far as this to increase hiring into good jobs from low-income, high unemployment neighborhoods. The commitment to hire is the difference between existing workforce programs and these new program.

Fact: New Haven Works’ mandate is to encourage other employers to develop these kinds of programs, and to identify screen and develop training programs in partnership with existing organizations where possible to produce qualified candidates.

Fact: all of the above facts are on the record, most of them in previous NHI stories.

Opinion: Yale and its unions are showing amazing leadership in addressing economic desperation.

Opinion: The City is really smart to do its part.

Opinion: instead of kvetching about something about which they are ignorant of the facts, commenters here would do well to start asking what New Haven’s other employers are willing to invest to improve the our dire economic circumstances.

posted by: streever on December 7, 2012  2:49pm

@Accountability
Is it too much to ask that they open the job up to all qualified individuals, and stop misusing public funds to reward individuals who carry political water for them?

Regardless of any other facts, I was raised to believe that the ends don’t justify the means. If you operate in corruption, you are corrupt, and your goals will not be met in a way that is sustainable or helpful.

Patronage needs to stop.

People need to start being hired based on their qualifications, not who they do grunt work for.

People who operate behind the scenes need to come into the light of day and be honest and transparent, and stop talking about something that they will never, ever, deliver.

You can’t promise transparency while making opaque decisions and hiring out of patronage.

posted by: Walt on December 7, 2012  3:24pm

Really do not see any “rants”  above as claimed,  but “accountability”‘s info helps explain the current status better, it seems.

posted by: robn on December 7, 2012  3:40pm

A jobs pipeline is a nice idea, but lets face it, Labor is investing money on a hoped for return of increased membership. Whether you think its out of idealism or alternatively out of powerlust, I’ll let you decide.

I am curious about the math though. If someone is found employment with the median income of New Haven ($36K) and exports $15K in rent or mortgage, and another $12K for food, that only leaves about 24% (about $8500) of their income to be spent in the local economy. So to consider the $1.5M/year job-creator non-profit a break even, they would have to gainfully and permanently employ 175 people per year. Is this possible? Is my logic way off?

posted by: Noteworthy on December 7, 2012  3:46pm

The naked and unashamed assault on all things New Haven by Unite and their affiliates, surrogates and water brigade is escalating rapidly. Achievement First debacle regarding the Martin Luther King school; the appointment of Mary Reynolds to Ward co-chair when she’s never attended a meeting or been involved in that community; and now this. The octopus grows.

Accountability - Nice facts. Irrelevant. As Streever correctly noted, the end never justifies the means. Turn on the lights and you’ll be on your way to the accountability for which you are named.

posted by: msconcerned on December 7, 2012  4:47pm

resources it me? I’m confused the city of New Haven reviewed a proposed two-year budget—$1.16 million the first year, $1.493 million the next—to present to potential funders to create jobs under a new program called New Haven Works, what is CT Works and/or the New Haven Dept of Labor’s role??? Why on earth oh that’s right New Haven is it’s own autonomous subsidiary of the plant.  Anywho I’m still confused I read comments about the UNION?! Why are they even concerned about the folks they represent, don’t they get paid (union dues) to speak for the company they work for??? Considering most folks are not required to work without breaks, lunch, holidays, vacation or sick pay why is the union still needed? (that’s another topic)

@Webblog1 I would bet the farm that only the folks who “know” someone on this board will have a shot at getting a job.

By the they way does the board consists of any HR specialists, how do you work on a budget for a program of employment with out any Human Resource folk?

It’s not open yet to job seekers how long will folk get paid to get ready to open the doors, what companies will gurantee a job after “Training” has occured, whooccurredng training, what is selection process for training program and/or case management. What is case management, will folk on the board become recruiters now with a percentage of the unemployed works salary going - where.  How do you case manage someone who is unemployed? Who has the resources to do that based on the number of folk unemployed? I’m available for hire.

posted by: accountability on December 7, 2012  5:13pm

noteworthy:

“Nice facts. Irrelevant.” Says it all.

Streever: What in the world are you talking about? Mary Reynolds is the INTERIM Director. Her salary is paid by the union to get the organization started, something that is particularly appropriate given that Yale is the first employer to put skin in the game so far, and her knowledge of the operations of the University’s hiring process will be invaluable. In what way is that patronage? What means are objectionable in this story?

Here’s what’s happening: The union is assigning and paying for staff for New Haven Works to start helping people in the community get decent jobs at the city’s employers, beginning but not limited to, Yale University. The University also has staff internally dedicated to that project. That staff will, one would hope, ultimately be augmented by funds raised from other partner employers and, yes, City funds. That’s multiplying, not siphoning, city funds! At the moment, no city funds are being misused because there um, well, aren’t any yet!

I think union growth is a very good thing, but let’s be clear, Yale’s participation in this program doesn’t grow Local 34. It’s hoped that it will provide opportunities for existing members to learn and improve themselves by mentoring and training candidates, but whoever’s hired into these jobs will be covered by Local 34’s contract regardless of how they’re hired.

Don’t want to ruffle any feathers, but misinformed commentary including assertions flatly contradicted by the facts in the story reasonably qualifies as “a fact-free anti-union rant.”

posted by: accountability on December 7, 2012  5:24pm

robn: there’s a longer discussion about the math, including the impact of higher vs. lower wage jobs on homeownership, the grand list and property tax revenues, and what percentage of rents are actually exported outside city limits rather than to New Haven resident landlords, etc.

And, as I’ve already said, some significant portion of the budget is expected to come from private sources, so the per-tax dollar threshold for return is far lower.

But it’s an interesting calculation. 175 seems like a high but achievable bar to me.

posted by: msconcerned on December 8, 2012  12:03am

@accountability the facts are there are already programs out here to help folks.

Unions were designed to help folks who were not getting their voice heard about bad working conditions.

There is no reason folks need a union or should have to pay union dues for someone to speak for them.  They can unite on their own.

Additionally no one is going to say that union folk in some area is will not get a first shot at a job.  If they are in the union they already had skills (whatever they were).

Don’t worry about ruffling my feathers one would have to get up pretty early in the morning to urinate on me and tell me it’s raining.

Fact is folks are not working and some have no skills and have little mouths to feed, if there were already programs in place why not use what is existing and proceed from there.

Lastly I launched my comments with being unclear, I’m certain this money could have been used differently and I’m certain a large percent of folks that “need” this training will not get it or may get it and will still be unemployed.

posted by: Threefifths on December 9, 2012  1:13pm

posted by: msconcerned on December 8, 2012 12:03am


There is no reason folks need a union or should have to pay union dues for someone to speak for them.  They can unite on their own.

Forming a union can only guarantee one thing when workers stick together we have more bargaining power than we do as scattered individuals.As far as pay union dues for someone to speak for them. It takes money to run an organization, like a church, a club, or a union. Union dues pay for contract negotiation expenses, office and support services, legal services, union newsletters and other communications, training for stewards and members, and organizing.So they still would have to come up with some money.The rich don’t need protecting.They’ve got their money, their power and their influence to protect them.It’s the working class and middle class workers who need to come together to protect their pay and conditions.

posted by: Claudia Herrera on December 10, 2012  10:17am

Paul Bass, please continue with the follow up meetings after this one.

Movements like these are the ones that are important for New Haven’s community.

Perez is business banker (I’like him),Mr. Rescigno I respect this man in the business area and the mayor DeStefano proved he understand to the Latino community.

I’m very interested to see how defective can be to work with combination of people and talents. regardless the personal “likes” and politics.

posted by: msconcerned on December 10, 2012  10:41am

@threefifths “Forming a union can only guarantee one thing when workers stick together we have more bargaining power than we do as scattered individuals.” It’s 2012 we have a mayor spending thousands of dollars under the umbrella of “Assisting the Unemployed”.  To date money is being spent and folks can’t even apply yet.  3rd there are already organizations through the state to assist with training, why not give triage the money to those agencies or tell me what evidence they have for thinking their way with this New program is going to change the statistics of the unemployed.  4th Folks should not have to in this century pay someone to speak for them. If this a union based organization then it’s not for general consumption.

posted by: msconcerned on December 10, 2012  10:45am

The ultimate goal is to assemble a pool of job-ready underemployed and unemployed New Haveners to link up with local employers, then to follow up with both the job-seekers and the employers about why the applicants do or don’t land the jobs.

Assemble WHAT? that list of names is already either at the CT Unemployment Office or at the Department of Social Services, they are a list of everyone that is unemployed and unskilled!

posted by: Threefifths on December 10, 2012  10:55am

posted by: msconcerned on December 10, 2012 10:41am

4th Folks should not have to in this century pay someone to speak for them. If this a union based organization then it’s not for general consumption.

Politicians are elected by the people and then are paid by the people to speak and pass laws for the people.So whatis your point.Also he said this is a union based organization running this program.

posted by: Curious on December 10, 2012  11:02am

Local 34 didn’t poll members to ask if they wanted to spend $70,000 on this admin position’s salary.  That’s dues gone out the window, for what?

Mentoring opportunities?  Come on.  There’s 3,400 union members in Local 34, how many will actually get to be a mentor, if they even care about that?

Possible mentorship is a weak argument for how this benefits the rank and file of Local 34, especially when that’s $20 out of the pocket of every member.

This benefits the union leadership, not the rank and file.  It will produce more members of the union, who will pay dues and therefore the salaries of the union leadership that put this program in place.

posted by: Threefifths on December 10, 2012  1:08pm

posted by: Curious on December 10, 2012 11:02am

his benefits the union leadership, not the rank and file.  It will produce more members of the union, who will pay dues and therefore the salaries of the union leadership that put this program in place.

If this is the case.Then the rank and file can get cards to breakaway from the union and form there own union.

posted by: Curious on December 11, 2012  9:18am

Threefifths, you CLEARLY have no idea how powerful Local 34 is.

Your suggestion is like saying that if I don’t like paying taxes, I can break off from the USA and form my own country. 

Just because a thing is possible in theory doesn’t mean it is possibile in reality.

posted by: msconcerned on December 12, 2012  8:03am

posted by: Threefifths on December 10, 2012 10:55am

“Politicians are elected by the people and then are paid by the people to speak and pass laws for the people.So whatis your point.Also he said this is a union based organization running this program.”

Seriously,

1.  If I’m paying union dues then they should ALWAYS be working on my behalf.
2.  If I’m in the union I should already have some type of skill and be employable
3.  If I’m in a union and I’m unemployed what’s wrong with me or what is wrong with my Union.
5.  Spending money on a program and the program is not yet available when the recipients of the program is not a new PROBLEM is insane to me!
4.  Folks that are not employed and hungry are outraged that New Haven would have a million dollar program to help union members! but want to locate part of the program in the Dixwell Avenue area of New Haven as if they were helping those folks.
5.  Don’t attack me what are you doing to help the unemployed?

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