PEACE battles wage-theft

West Palm Beach, FL – In 2010, the PEACE organization began research into the issue of wage-theft, a widespread practice in some industries of non-payment or under-payment of agreed-upon wages after the work has been completed. Similar to the example of Miami-Dade County, which passed an ordinance in February 2010 prohibiting wage theft and establishing a process for workers to file complaints to be investigated by the County, PEACE sought for the same protection in Palm Beach County. On April 19, 2010, 1,313 people attended PEACE’s Nehemiah Action Assembly – the largest turnout in the organization’s nineteen year history. At this Action, PEACE secured commitments from the four County Commissioners in attendance to support the passage of a Wage Theft Ordinance. In October 2010, the County Commissioners voted 6-0 for a first reading of the ordinance, scheduled February 1, 2011. After significant pressure from special interest groups, the issue broadened to the state level later that year where PEACE blocked passage of a state law that would have prevented local counties from passing protections against wage-theft. PEACE is now working with county officials to finally pass the ordinance

Loans lead to jobs in Pinellas

Pinellas County, FL – In the wake of local unemployment rates as high as 13%, in 2010 FAST won measures to create jobs through the expansion of small and locally owned businesses. Research showed there are over 54,000 Pinellas County residents that are currently unemployed, and 91% of the county’s businesses are small businesses, with less than 50 employees. One of the main problems faced by small businesses is getting access to financing or loans, yet more than 80% of small businesses depend on some sort of financing to grow their business. Recently the Pinellas County Economic Development held a lending fair, to assist small businesses in applying and getting approved for loans, with representation from over 25 business lenders. FAST is following up with PCED about designing and implementing a program in the county which would provide incentives to small businesses to help them create jobs. Mayor Foster of St. Petersburg has committed to doubling the amount of contracts and purchasing that goes to small businesses, from 5% to 10%, in the year 2011.

TUSA wins Green Jobs Training program

Toledo, OH – TUSA’s research showed that the majority of job seekers were over the age of 35 and only 12% had a degree from a college or technical school. Therefore, TUSA challenged elected officials in May 2009 to dedicate funding towards training Toledo residents with the skills that would prepare them for jobs in new and emerging industries. TUSA secured $1 million of Workforce Investment Dollars for Green Job Training from the County, an extension of the Green Jobs Coordinator Position to oversee the Green Jobs Training Program, and $100,000 from the city to invest in training efforts for Toledo residents. At the 2010 Nehemiah Action, the County Commission reported that from the $1 million TUSA had leveraged for training, over 200 Lucas County residents had already received training in growing industries, earning over 400 industry-recognized certifications. In addition, the City Council reported that the funds TUSA secured are leveraging an additional $150,000 of city and state funding to create the Lucas County Green Job Corps. The Corps will train and employ at-risk youth from the Juvenile Justice system with skills in green jobs. At the Action, representatives from both the County Commission and City Council committed to continue meeting with TUSA to plan for continued job creation efforts to employ those who have been trained.

Green Jobs Training created in Dayton

Dayton, OH – Montgomery County lost nearly 42%, or 30,000, of manufacturing jobs over the last seven years. Through in-depth research, LEAD discovered that by investing in the new green economy, including investments in construction, manufacturing, energy, and other industries, the Dayton community stands to gain thousands of jobs. At LEAD’s 2009 Nehemiah Action, County Commissioner Deborah Lieberman agreed to spearhead the creation of a Green Jobs Training Corps that will work to put people on a pathway out of poverty and into sustainable careers in the new green economy. The Green Jobs Training Corps began training people in the fall of 2009. Additionally, Commissioner Lieberman committed to investing in new and emerging green business through the Green Business Incubator. By the end of 2010, Commissioner Lieberman followed through on all of these commitments.

BREAD wins strongest payday lending legislation in country

Columbus, OH – At BREAD’s 2007 Nehemiah Action, 1,700 leaders kicked off a campaign to address the issue of predatory lending. BREAD’s work as part of the Ohio Coalition for Responsible Lending led to the passage of House Bill 545. This legislation caps the interest rate that payday lenders can legally charge their clients at 28% APR, a decrease of over 360% from what these lenders were previously charging. The organization has also launched a campaign to expand the use of Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) in Franklin County. On May 14, 2008, HB 545 passed with a 29-4 vote on the Senate floor, followed with a successful consensus vote from the Ohio House of Representatives. The final stamp of approval was formalized on Monday, June 2, 2008 when Gov. Ted Strickland signed the legislation, thus creating the strongest consumer protection bill in the country. The legislation was later challenged through a statewide referendum in 2008, but voters overwhelmingly decided to retain the regulation.