City Union May Kill Summer Kids Proram

Valley Patriot Staff

The City of Lawrence’s Summer Youth Program is the newest target of the Local Laborer’s Union and is in jeopardy of being canceled due to a complaint filed by Local 3 – Laborer’s Union.  The complaint is in protest to the hiring of nearly two dozen public school students to work for the city of Lawrence.

Union officials say they do not want these students to work for the city and  are demanding that the city recall laid off employees (only laborer’s union employees) before  students are allowed to begin their summer jobs.

In an exclusive interview, Lawrence Personnel Director Frank Bonet said he felt it was “a disgrace” for any union to hold the city’s students hostage in lieu of gaining on their own “selfish demands.”

“I can’t understand why a labor union would use children to gain an advantage in their demands. This program allows our city’s youth to gain experience in the workforce, to learn the responsibilities of having a job, to learn how to compose job resumes and create networking opportunities with city professionals”.

Bonet continued, “Mayor Sullivan has been and will continue to be a friend of students and jobs and I don’t believe that he will allow these unions to put our children down. He never has and never will.”

“For someone to think that the city will buckle under threats of bogus grievances and arbitrations better begin to think about how they can assist this city in its goals instead of taking advantages of its children.”

Mayor Sullivan added, “The Workforce Investment Board and Valleyworks employees have worked hard, worked smart and added many long hours to make sure that our children have the opportunity for the Summer Youth Work Program. It offers Lawrence kids the opportunity to gain work experience and develop skills while connecting with City governments and non-profit agencies.”

Students work with the city of Lawrence in many capacities and in various city departments, including; the Lawrence Public Schools (with funds of the LPS), the Police Department, the Fire Department, non-profit agencies such as the YMCA, YWCA, Boating Program, City Hall and many more.

Mayor Sullivan said the Lawrence Police and Fire Departments both support the importance of showing their student residents the worklife of city employees.

Sullivan says this includes engaging the talents and interests of young people, increasing their skills and competencies, and providing positive adult role models.

“This kind of real life experience introduces them to the workplace, passes on valuable employment skills, and provides them with a summer income.”

Bonet said the city unions are playing politics with the lives and futures of young people.

“This isn’t just a job placement pro-gram, it has the core elements of thriving youth-development programming includ-ing: adult support and guidance, engaging activities, and contributions from youth. We assist them in making a successful transition to healthy adulthood and economic independence.”

“The bottom line is,” Mayor Sullivan concluded, “I am not going to tell the kids of Lawrence that making our unions happy is more important than helping them start their work and life experience here in the city” Sullivan said.

The recent complaints from the Laborer’s union came in response to an Eagle Tribune article that  revealed Groundwork Lawrence’s interest in hosting Lawrence Outdoor Youth Corps (LOYC) summer job slots for youth aged 14-18 through the Summer Jobs Program. 

The LOYC youth workers would be dedicated to keeping this summer’s newly constructed two-way Essex Street corridor looking clean, supplement the Essex Street work with a rotation of staffing support for Farmers Market, park cleanups, and landscaping maintenance of the Marston Street/Canal Street Gateway area.

“This summer jobs program is an important way to strengthen the character of our community. The experience that kids get in a program like this is something they will carry with them the rest of their lives. It’s very disappointing to me that the union would grieve this and try to take that opportunity away from them,” Sullivan concluded.   




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