Category Archives: News

Who’s TIFs? Our TIFs!

Thanks to everyone that came out for the Fight for $15 rally and attended the Economic Development meeting as well. WE WON! It was clear they wanted to just quickly and quietly get the TIF policy approved without further community input, but we did not let them.

Keep in touch for more actions in the fight.

 

Worcester Jobs Fund

The Worcester Community Labor Coalition has partnered with the City of Worcester to set up a Jobs Fund to ensure quality pre-apprenticeship training and local job placement.

Thanks to WCLC member’s efforts, state, city and private funds are available for job training through the Worcester Jobs Fund. Primary activities are:

  • Recruitment of local residents for anticipated job opportunities; especially talented individuals with previous obstacles to employment, including veterans, single parents, people of color, people with a past felony conviction, women, people with disabilities and low-income residents.
  • Development and oversight of new job training program(s) for in-demand positions when training is not currently available to local residents.
  • Outreach to local companies including those receiving tax incentives/TIFs and local anchor institutions, to recruit their support as project partners and development of direct career placement.

The Jobs Fund meets the Second Wednesday of the month at 10am.  Contact Program Manager, Kelsey Lamoureux for more information: (508)373-7641 or LamoureuxK@worcesterma.gov.

Much of our work is inspired by Building Futures RI and our process included a visit to Providence with City Councilor Sarai Rivera, City Manager Ed Augustus and other public and private leaders.

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International Workers Day – May 1st, 2015

Rally for Good Jobs & Workers Rights
4pm-6pm
Friday, May 1st, 2015
at the Worcester Memorial Auditorium (Lincoln Sq.)

Organized by the Worcester Community Labor Coalition

Printable Flyer Here (Grayscale PDF 4mb)

Participating Organizations:
Carpenters Local #107
Ascentria Care Alliance
Belmont A.M.E. Zion Church
Butter Side Down housing collective
Collective A Go-Go
Communities United Collective
Crittenton Women’s Union
Dynamy Youth Academy
Education Association of Worcester (EAW)
EPOCA
Future Focus Media Co-op
Good Orning housing collective
HOPE Coalition
IBEW Local 96
Iglesia Cristiana de la Comunidad
Jobs With Justice
Martin Luther King Center
Mass Nurses Association
MOSAIC Culture Complex
NAACP Worcester Branch
NAGE Local 495
Neighbor to Neighbor
Next Step Program at WSU
Pleasant Street Neighborhood Network Center
Plumbers and Pipefitters Local #4
Progressive Labor Party
Regional Environmental Council
SEIU 1199
SEIU 509
Shalom Neighborhood Center
Sheetmetal Workers Local #63
Society of St Vincent de Paul
Solidarity And Green Economy (SAGE) Alliance
St. Francis & St. Therese Catholic Worker
Stone Soup
Student Immigration Movement
Teamsters Union Local 170
Training Resources of America
Training Resources of America Worcester YouthBuild Program
Unite HERE
Worcester – Fitchburg Building Trades
Worcester Black Clergy Alliance
Worcester Friends Meeting (Quakers)
Worcester Interfaith
Worcester Latino Ministers Alliance
Worcester Roots
Worcester Unemployment Action Group
Yes We Care

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Let the people vote

 Worcester Community – Labor Coalition says,  “Let the people vote”

 

The Worcester Community – Labor Coalition is asking the Worcester City Council to immediately start a public hearing process in order to include and engage all the residents of Worcester in deciding whether our City should change its form of government from a City Manager to a Strong Mayor form of government. We are asking the City Council to hold public hearings starting in September on charter change and that at the conclusion of the hearings the Council takes a vote on holding an election to let the voters decide Worcester’s future.

Formed in 2012, the Worcester Community – Labor Coalition started as an effort to secure a voice for community participation in the major decisions taking place in Worcester. The Coalition’s initial work was in response to the absence of taxpayers’ voices in the distribution of local tax relief deals (TIFs), the City’s failure to guarantee new developers hire Worcester residents and the passage of Worcester’s Responsible Employers Ordinance which requires contractors working on Worcester taxpayer supported projects to have job training and apprenticeship programs in place. Whether it’s the next proposed Washington Square hotel, the ongoing CitySquare project or a tax deal for a new outside developer, the Worcester Community – Labor Coalition believes Worcester residents need to be a part of the decision-making. Lenny Cooper, a Coalition member and representative from Worcester’s NAACP sums it up well,

“A lot of economic development seems to just happen in Worcester without anyone asking how it helps Worcester residents, low-income families and communities of color. How can we guarantee this investment by both the developers and our City fully benefits Worcester residents? I’m glad to be a part of a community group asking these questions. “

Earlier this summer the Coalition started developing a broad community survey to make certain we were not only listening and acting on behalf of our own members, but also including other Worcester residents’ opinions on our issues. We are still compiling the results of that data. While we are not prepared to release all the survey results yet, it became obvious that we had an obligation to share the poll’s results relating to strong mayor and City Manager now, when that information is still of value to City Councilors working to chart Worcester’s future course.

Our community survey found that 90% of Worcester’s electorate want the community to decide the Strong Mayor vs City Manager debate. We took that as a mandate for our Coalition to speak out immediately. Not to speak out pro or con, not with hidden hopes of crowning a secret candidate, but solely for the purpose of doing everything we possibly could to guarantee that this debate is settled openly, publicly, where everyday voters, taxpayers, residents of senior citizen housing, new immigrants and our next generation’s leaders will all have a voice in choosing our future course.

It is also clear from the survey that Worcester residents are equally split, 39% believing we should “change to a Strong Mayor form of government” and 43% believing Worcester should “continue with a City Manager form of government”. Given the polls 4.86% margin of error, Worcester residents are equally divided statistically. A significant 18% either “don’t know or refused to answer”.

Lastly, 94% of those surveyed agreed that, “Even if a City Councilor personally supports keeping a City Manager form of government, they should allow voters in the City to have a say through public hearings and a local election.”

Frank Kartheiser, the Lead Organizer for Worcester Interfaith and a founding member of the Worcester Community — Labor Coalition best explains the roots of this project;

“Looking ahead we wanted to make certain the issues our members are discussing are the issues the larger Worcester community cares about. We went to the people to find answers to questions ranging from creating more jobs for local residents to public transportation, job training to funding for our schools and youth jobs. We want to make certain Worcester voters’ opinions are being heard.”

It was never our plan to dive into the current City Manager vs Strong Mayor rumblings. As with everyone else in Worcester though we kept hearing the chatter, something was going to happen. Sometimes the chatter sounded like there was a secret plan already being hatched. Seeing our polling results though we felt we couldn’t stay silent. We want City Councilors to be making fully informed decisions which include the opinions

of Worcester residents before making decisions that chart the City’s course for the next 20 or more years. We recognize we present this data at the 11th hour.

Luz Vega a long-time organizer with Neighbor to Neighbor in our city summarizes the Coalition’s decision;

“The foundation of our Coalition is based on the belief by all members that Worcester’s residents need to be a part of the major decisions and developments taking place in our City. How could we stand by listening to everyone talk about changing the Charter without anyone proposing a process that includes all the residents of Worcester? How could we sit quietly when our polling of 400 Worcester voters showed an overwhelming belief that Worcester voters needed ‘to be allowed to be part of the decision making process through public hearings and a local election’?”

Members of our Coalition feel strongly about moving this perennial debate forward; Jim Turner, a 59 year Worcester resident and member of the Worcester Carpenter Union doesn’t hold back when asked;

“Why does this question keep coming up? Why do we as a City struggle so much with making decisions. Let’s stop calling ourselves the second largest city in New England if we’re not going to act it. I see pros and cons on both sides of this debate, but I’m 100% clear that it’s time we finally made a decision.”

Dania Flores is a newer Worcester resident who’s clear on her vision for Worcester;

“I want the people to have an opportunity to elect the people that are making the economic and financial decisions in our City. I don’t want to be a part of a city where decisions get made by a small group, in some backroom or by any political machine people are always talking about. We need to let residents of Worcester decide this issue.”

Our polling survey was comprised of a random sample of likely voters in a typical Worcester municipal election. The survey was completed with a representative sample of 400 likely voters and has a margin of error is 4.86 %. Interviews were conducted July 8 through July 10, 2014 by professional interviewers in English. Calling hours included nights and evenings. The poll was conducted by CSC Solutions. The results of our polling questions regarding Strong Mayor vs City Manager are below. The results of our other community issues will be part of a larger report we will be releasing in the coming weeks.

The Worcester Community – Labor Coalition formed in 2012 as an effort to secure a place for community participation in economic development decisions taking place in Worcester. Each of these decisions has the potential to either directly impact, build and support our communities, neighborhoods and members or ignore the needs, hopes and priorities of the women, men and young people that are the true developers of this community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stone Soup: Labor and Community Unite!

Stone Soup was proud to partner with unions and community-focused organizations to rebuild Stone Soup’s community center, located on 4 King Street in Worcester’s Main South neighborhood, which was damaged by a fire in March 2009.

The collaboration coalesced through the Worcester Community Labor coalition to join partners that provide skilled volunteers, restoration funds, and pathways out of poverty through skilled job training programs that reach disadvantaged youth. The training program combined the power of community action and on the job vocational training with the expertise of skilled instructors, site supervisors and carpenters. Participants gained weatherization experience and receive BPI, Lead-Safe RRP and OSHA certifications.

Partners for the rebuild included:

New England Carpenters Training Center
Carpenters Local 107
Worcester Building Trades Council
Plumbers & Pipe Fitters Local 4
Painters Local 48
YouthBuild Boston
Mass YouthBuild Coalition
Worcester YouthBuild
Deven’s Shriver Jobs Corps
Westover Job Corps
Rebuilding Together Worcester
Co-op Power
Co-op Fund of New England
Worcester Community Housing Resources
Worcester Common Ground
Equity Trust
Maple Street Architects

Here’s a video the carpenters union made about the rebuild:

The mission of Stone Soup is to build grassroots power by connecting and enriching groups and individuals in our communities who are working for social justice in Worcester, MA. We are building community and economies based on cooperation and creativity while resisting oppression and gentrification.