The JOIN Agenda
Philadelphia Unemployment Project
Pa. Department of Welfare Community Legal Services Mayor's Literacy Commission
JOIN Agenda
 Public Jobs
Literacy Gap

The JOIN Agenda

 We, the community organizations of Philadelphia, agree with the effort to bring people on welfare into the workforce and believe it is the responsibility of recipients to seek employment. At the same time, we believe that it is the obligation of government to insure the availability of jobs at a living wage, adult education, good schools, and quality child-care for every resident of the Commonwealth seeking employment and the means to support their families. Above all, we must close the Literacy Gap that prevents thousands of people throughout Pennsylvania from qualifying for the emerging jobs in our new economy

To achieve these goals, we urge that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia take the following steps:

1. To insure that all people on welfare can meet their work requirements by March, 1999, the Pennsylvania Legislature must enact Senate Bill 895, that will create 10,000 full-time community service jobs for people who cannot otherwise find work.

2. The Commonwealth must invest in the purchase and operation of 500 vans and other vehicles, to be used by SEPTA, non-profit organizations, and employers to transport at least 10,000 people from Philadelphia to jobs in the suburbs. Wherever possible, our goal should be to cut commuter time to 45 minutes or less. While Philadelphia's economy remains static, the surrounding suburbs have gained more than 32,000 jobs in the past year. Employers are having trouble filling entry level jobs. Yet many regional job centers are inaccessible without a car, and inner-city residents cannot reach most suburban job locations by public transit in less than an hour.

3. To insure that welfare recipients can compete effectively for full-time jobs, the Department of Welfare must permit recipients to pursue a pre-GED, GED, or a work-related educational program for not one, but two years--as a legitimate work related activity under the required 20 hours per week. This should include two-year community college programs.

4. The Commonwealth must triple its budget for adult literacy from $8 million to $24 million, with the goal of tripling the number of GED's awarded each year. Approximately 2,200,000 people in Pennsylvania over 18 do not have high school diplomas-including 416,000 Philadelphia residents. At a time when even computer literacy is needed for many jobs, a high school diploma has become a necessity. Yet just 19,000 Pennsylvania residents received GED's last year-a mere 1,751 in Philadelphia. We need to award at least 5,000 GED's annually in Philadelphia alone.

5. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania must develop a child-care plan that provides affordable, quality care to every child. The Welfare Department has proposed a "tier system" for child care that will raise the co-pay for quality care beyond the reach of low income workers. The Department must withdraw this plan and develop and implement a subsidy system that makes quality child care affordable for all. 

6. We support the Campaign for Public Education's demand to achieve fair funding for schools throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to help us achieve the goal of providing quality education to the young people of Philadelphia.

7. To insure that low-income residents achieve self-sufficiency, the full-time jobs that welfare recipients receive must pay a living wage-no less than 100% of the poverty rate plus health insurance.. To demonstrate its support for this principle, the Philadelphia City Council should pass the proposed living wage ordinance that will set this minimum for all companies that receive assistance under the City's economic development programs.