workfare (was German "Hot Autumn")

Wed Oct 2 04:38:23 MDT 1996

On 01 Oct 96 22:43:15 EDT Jon Flanders said:
>  Now we have the workfare program bursting on the national consciousness. New
>York city is the test bed for this. It is shaping up quickly as a challenge
>for labor, handed to us by our best buddy, WJ Clinton. A government funded
>sub-minimum wage labor force will be working side by side with union workers.

This is indeed a critical issue. For those outside the U.S. (or New
York!) let me fill in a bit.

Tens of thousands of NY city jobs at union wages have been turned
into dead-end workfare assignments at sub-minimum wages.

Clinton's vaunted "end of welfare as we know it" bill threatens to
require the city to replace another 100,000 jobs at slave wages.
Similar conditions face other localities.

For while the situation was kept quiet by the complicity of union
officials with the politicians of both parties. It blew up a week or
two ago when the proposed Transit Union (TWU Local 100) contract was
announced, making clear that union jobs were being phased out in favor
of WEP ("work experience program"), the city's names for workfare.

Then union bureaucrats started to blame each other publicly, with none
yet saying that slave-wage labor programs should be fought. The opposition
in Local 100, New Directions, apparently vacillated at first but then
came out against the contract. WEP workers are also beginning to organize
for full union pay and benefits.

But Jon is right. The fight has to go beyond one union and become a wide
class struggle. In New York it sure looks like we have the test case
right here, but I'd like to know what is happening along such lines
nationally (and internationally).

With all the blather about the booming economy and U.S. productivity
leading the world once again, it's interesting the the system proves
that it needs thousands (in New York alone) of essential jobs,
but can't afford to pay living wages to get them.

Walter Daum

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