NY's Human Services Workforce Needs a Raise: TU Letter

NYAPRS Note: When Governor Cuomo and state legislators failed to provide a cost of living increase across New York’s human services nonprofit sector, they denied a dedicated workforce a critically needed 30 centers per hour increase and their agencies the ability to deal with operating crises caused by steadily rising costs that have been unaddressed for almost a decade. Bill Gettman’s letter in Saturday’s Albany Times Union sends a powerful message that advocates for human service agencies that touch the lives of over a million vulnerable New Yorkers are re-joining and redoubling efforts to get state government to hear our call for fairer wages and a critically needed funding increase. More in the coming weeks!

NY's Human Services Workforce Needs a Raise: Gettman

By William Gettman Albany Times Union  April 20, 2019

April 1 marked the passage of the state budget. In the budget, members of the state Legislature, comptroller, lieutenant governor and governor received substantial raises. In sports, April 1 marked the signing of a $49 million contract for the basketball coach at Kentucky. In Philadelphia, a star baseball player received a contract nearing $150 million. The message is either people are paid for how well they perform or how well they negotiate.

Yet the human services workforce was denied a raise of 30 cents per hour. That's right: the state budget did not contain a 2 percent cost-of-living raise for the hundreds of thousands of human services workers.

Our state depends on and values services provided by nonprofits for the elderly, young and those with special needs. More than 400,000 individuals work in human services across the state and support families and children of all income brackets in every county. The staff provide services to victims of violence, those needing mental health services, children who suffer from neglect and many more.

The value of critical service providers must change. Advocates, good government groups, Chambers of Commerce and the private sector must realize the value to our economy and quality of life that human services staff and their agencies provide. An underfunded and resourced human service sector is detrimental to new businesses coming to the state and adding to our economy and tax base.

It is time to recognize impact and value of the front-line human services workforce. When everyone else receives a raise or large contract, 30 cents per hour is not too much to ask.

William Gettman

CEO, Northern Rivers Family of Services