Perspectives in Improving Public Education Around the Nation
Creating New Job Opportunities and Protecting Jobseekers in Economic Downturn
I’ve often said that just because we are in the midst of a fiscal crisis doesn’t mean we can afford to walk away from our long-term obligations to the city. If we want our children to have the best opportunities when they grow up, then we have to keep investing in the future. And by doing that, we’ll also keep more New Yorkers working during these tough economic times. At the same time, we have to make sure New Yorkers get a fair deal—especially those looking for jobs now. Recently, we took important steps on both these fronts.
First, our city’s economic future received a big boost when the City Council approved a bold plan to redevelop Willets Point—a large peninsula in the shadow of Shea Stadium that’s brimming with potential but has been held back by decades of use as a dumping ground.
Our plan for the area involves helping the existing businesses relocate, cleaning up the heavy pollution, and then sowing the seeds of a dynamic new neighborhood. We’re talking retail and entertainment facilities, office space and affordable housing, new parks, a new school, a hotel, and a convention center—the city’s first outside of Manhattan.
With great links to mass transit and buildings that use the latest energy-efficient technology, Willets Point promises to be the city’s first truly green community development. But just as important are the project’s economic benefits: $1.3 billion in direct tax revenues, an additional $25 billion rippling through our economy during the project’s first 30 years, 18,000 construction jobs, and more than 5,000 permanent jobs.
These new jobs will span a range of professional opportunities including positions in the hospitality and service industries, which is where a lot of New Yorkers, including many immigrants, get their first foothold in the workforce. Frequently, they go to the more than 300 licensed employment agencies around the city in search of such jobs. But unfortunately, many of these agencies also have a history of deceiving their clients, by violating State laws and charging them non-refundable fees or referring them to jobs that don’t even exist.
With employment rising and more and more people looking for work, I want jobseekers to know that the City of New York is on their side—and we’re going to end the fraud and abuse that’s long cheated them.
After a yearlong investigation, we recently announced that we’ve levied $160,000 in fines against agencies that violated the law, shut down some of the biggest offenders, and collected more than $80,000, which we’re returning to customers. And because violations were so pervasive, we’ve begun to re-educate the entire industry on the law—and we’ll hold them accountable for following it.
We’re also educating jobseekers on the steps they can take to protect themselves.
For instance: Only use an employment agency that’s been licensed by the City’s Department of Consumer Affairs. Understand when you can be charged any placement fees—and know your rights to a refund. And only accept jobs that pay at least the minimum wage.
Stick to these tips and you’ll have a better shot at finding an honest, stable job that helps you provide for your family and get through these tough times. And for more advice, call 311 or visit nyc.gov.#