NEW: Pawtucket, Central Falls Communities Protest Closing of netWORKri
Wednesday, September 05, 2012
A group of activists from the unemployment advocacy organization Where’s the Work joined with other concerned members of the Pawtucket and Central Falls communities today, braving the poor weather to protest the closing of Pawtucket’s unemployment resource center. Holding signs reading “Don’t Toss Us Aside,” participants described the impact that losing the netWORKri One-Stop Career Center will have on their struggle to find jobs and announced the beginning of a campaign to push Department of Labor and Training Director Charles Fogarty to keep the Resource Center open.
“The fact of the matter is, we need this Resource Center,” said Stanley Banach, a member of Where’s the Work and a resident of Pawtucket. “For so many of us, this office is the only reliable place within miles of our homes where we can access the internet, computers, printers, fax machines, phones; the basics for any job search. If I can’t even access those bare necessities—or if I need to carry my 20-month-old son on a two-hour bus ride to the next office in Woonsocket every time I need to scan for job postings—how am I going to ever get back to work?”
The Department of Labor and Training, which has faced significant budgetary pressures this year, has announced that it will be closing the Pawtucket netWORKri office on September 6th and that it will have vacated the 175 Main Street location by the end of the month.
“The DLT needs to be efficient and effective by providing resources in the areas where there is the most need,” said Lisa Buteau, another member of Where’s the Work. “With Central Falls at 13.9% unemployment and Pawtucket at 12.9%, it’s no wonder that this netWORKri office is the most highly-used One-Stop location in the state. All we want is an accessible place we can search for jobs. Is that so much to ask?”
State Senator Elizabeth Crowley added her voice to the protest, calling on Governor Chafee to stop the closing of the Resource Center immediately. “Closing this branch is shortsighted and a disservice to the people of Pawtucket and Central Falls whom I represent. My constituents rely on these crucial services and skills to find jobs and provide for their families.”
The demonstrators made clear that they understand the difficult position Director Fogarty is in. “We know there’s not enough money to go around,” said Where’s the Work member Denise Mather Uustall. “That’s why we’re not asking the DLT to keep a fully-staffed netWORKri office here. All we’re asking is that they keep the Resource Center with the basic job search necessities open. Expenses will be minimal for the DLT, but the impact will be huge for all of us in the community who need access to these resources.”
The unemployed activists were joined by representatives from a number of local organizations also opposed to the closing of the netWORKri office. “It is exactly now that unemployed people in Central Falls and Pawtucket need more help, not less,” said Fredy Garcia, a resident of Central Falls and a leader from the Fuerza Laboral worker center. “We’re not looking for handouts, just a hand up.”
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