Wednesday, January 24, 2007

YARG Member Nancy Cruz Speaks Out for Quality Youth Employment in DC

Nancy Cruz, right, testifies before the Workers' Rights Board
as part of a panel on Youth Employment in DC.


DC Jobs with Justice
Workers' Rights Board hearing: Tuesday, Jan. 23rd, 6:30-8:30pm
John Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave, NW


Testimony from: Nancy Cruz, 5075 Just St. NE Washington, DC 20019

Hello my name is Nancy Cruz. I am seventeen years old and I am a senior at Bell Multicultural High School. My dad is a chef and my mom is a janitor at Georgetown University. We live in NE DC. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my testimony today with the Workers’ Rights Board.

I am a member of the Youth Action Research Group, a youth membership based organizing project in DC. We organize around youth issues that we choose and now we are working to improve youth employment.

We did an action research report on DC’s Summer Youth Employment program because it gives youth the opportunity to gain hands-on experience, build their résumés, and earn money. We recognize it’s a great program to have for our city and while many jobsites offer great experiences for youth, the program as a whole could use some improvement.

To improve this program most importantly, the Department of Employment Services needs to improve how the program actually runs. Right now, many youth do not get paid on time, their jobsites are not planned very well, they don’t have anything to do, and they aren’t learning things to put on their resume.

  • This summer we want for D.O.E.S. to fix their payment system so youth get paid on time and for the right amount.
  • We also want D.O.E.S. to have a point person for when youth and employers have problems. Right now, when people have problems or questions, their phone doesn’t get answered. We need to know that someone is on the other end of the phone to help address the issues when they come up.
  • We also think that youth should be paid the DC minimum wage which is right now seven dollars. $5.15 per hour is NOT enough for youth to earn. We have to pay to have new school supplies, buy new clothes, and for me, I have to give some my money that I receive from my job to my mom.

Congress right now is thinking about raising the federal minimum wage. We want D.O.E.S. to put enough money into the budget for 2008 to pay youth the new DC minimum wage AND to plan ahead for this summer in 2007 to pay the new federal minimum wage and not cut the 11,000 promised jobs for this summer.

Lastly, we want for the 2008 budget to include more money so that we can have YEAR-ROUND jobs for youth who are in school and for youth who are out of school. 1000 jobs for out of school youth would really be a good start and 500 jobs for youth who are in school.

We are passing around a sheet that has our recommendations. We hope everyone here today will support us as we organize to win these improvements to youth employment.

Please also sign up to come to our event in February where we will celebrate the publishing of our youth written research report on this issue.

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