DC WORKERS’ RIGHTS BOARD TO HOLD HEARING ON BUDGET CUTS IMPACT ON SERVICES AND PUBLIC EMPLOYEES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASErnrnNovember 17, 2008rnrnContact: Ruth Castel-Branco, 202.489.2273, rcastel@dclabor.org rnrnDC WORKERS’ RIGHTS BOARD TO HOLD HEARING ONrnBUDGET CUTS IMPACT ON SERVICES AND PUBLIC EMPLOYEESrnThursday, Nov. 20th, 6:30 – 9:00 PM, Wilson Building – 1350 Penn. Ave. NW, Rm. 412rnrnWASHINGTON, DC—A coalition of community, faith, youth and labor organizations will hold a public hearing Thursday, November 20th at the DC City Council on the impact of the proposed budget cuts on public services. The hearing held by the DC Workers’ Rights Board will examine recent layoffs of public workers in city agencies ranging from mental health to public schools. Community leaders, workers, parents and students will testify. City officials including Mayor Adrian Fenty and DC Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee have been invited to testify.rnrn”I was a teacher’s aide for 23 years,” said Loretta Archie, AFSCME Council 20 member. “Then Rhee appointed a new principal who unilaterally re-categorized us as instructional employees and obliged us to take the No Child Left Behind-mandated test. On August 12th I was told that I did not meet the qualifications– qualifications that bear littlernrelevance to my everyday work û and I was laid off with no opportunity to retake the test or possibility of training.” This year the Fenty administration laid off approximately 450 unionized teachers’ aides, and has replaced them with contracted workers instead.rnrn”Rhee was brought in to break the union,” added Harold Cox, a former DCPS teacher and Washington Teachers’ Union member. “After dedicating 21 years to working with students I was fired without due process. Like hundreds of other summarily dismissed teachers, I was forced to reapply for my position. But the re-hiring was merely a ploy to strong-arm teachers to make concessions such as extending teaching hours, that the union has fought off for years.”rnrnThe public health sector has also been affected. Last month Fenty announced that he was going to privatize the entire Core Service Agency of the DC Mental Health Department, which will affect 4,000 patients and hundreds of social workers, mental health specialists and other CSA employees who work with DC residents with mental health problems. “I call it Project Trojan Horse; short sighted, based on inaccurate data, and with devastating effects on DC families,” says Cherylyn Pipkin, DC CSA clinical social worker and SEIU 1199 member. “We know that the city is facing difficult times and needs to save money but a patchwork of private programs cannot replace a safety net that we have created for the members of our community who need services.” rnrn”This hearing will give the public a chance to voice their concerns about the direction of city spending and the way this administration points fingers at city workers instead of addressing systemic problems,” said Rev. Raymond Bell, Pastor of First Rising Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Northwest DC and co-chair of the Workers’ Rights Board.rnrnThe Workers’ Rights Board is a project of DC Jobs with Justice, a local coalition of 34 civic, religious, community, student and labor organizations, seeking to improve conditions for District working families. The hearing will take place Thursday, November 20th, 6:30pm-9:00pm at the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Room 412. For more information contact 202.489.2273, rcastel@dclabor.org.rn

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