Support Memo – A. 5936-A Wright/ S. 3597 Savino – ELIMINATE THE WORK EXPERIENCE PROGRAM

Support Memo


A. 5936-A Wright/ S. 3597 Savino

The New York State AFL-CIO, representing 2.5 million union workers and their families as well as our retirees and their families, supports the above-referenced legislation.

This bill amends the social service law to prohibit the work experience program (WEP).   It also limits work participation activities for recipients of public assistance to only those which will improve a recipient’s employment opportunities.

In order to maintain federal Temporary Assistance Needy Families (TANF) funding, the state must meet a target work participation rate.  Currently, that rate is met, in part, by participation in the WEP.  Through the WEP, over 25,000 New Yorkers are forced to work for public and non-profit employers without pay, social security credit or eligibility for the earned income tax credit.  This is particularly galling considering there are many other options that could be used to satisfy the state’s target work participation rate. These options include: subsidized employment, training, community service programs, vocational education, and job search and job readiness programs, just to name a few.  The most recent available data from the United States Department of Health and Human Services shows states including Connecticut and Massachusetts met their target participation rates without the use of WEPs.

Further, by providing unpaid labor, the WEP displaces full time workers.  Thus, instead of helping recipients transition to employment that pays enough to support themselves, the WEP eliminates good middle class jobs.

It is time for New York State to eliminate the WEP.

Therefore, this Federation urges this bill be passed.

For further information, contact the Legislative Department at 518-436-8516.