Over the past few years, many critiques have been written about the effort to lure employers to the beleaguered city of Camden by way of millions of dollars in corporate tax breaks. Some articles have brought up the fact that some of that money is going to politically-connected entities such as Holtec, on whose board “powerful Democratic Party ‘boss'” George Norcross sits. Others have expressed worry at the high per-job cost to the state baked into these incentives. But possibly the most important thing to talk about is whether or not these companies will make a positive difference in the lives of Camden residents whose possible improved fortunes are often touted as reasons these tax breaks are worthwhile in the first place.
Some groups such as Camden Churches Organized for People are unconvinced. CCOP Vice Chair Ray Lamboy voiced concern last year that these companies coming into the city would hire many local residents. Others like New Jersey Policy Perspective Vice President Jon Whiten are concerned that the jobs created in Camden will be “fly-in, fly-out-type jobs” taken by suburbanites who drive their cars to isolated office parks and drive home in the evening, doing little good in the way of economic stimulus to their host city, such as in the case of the new Subaru headquarters located far from any city neighborhood with amenities employees can support.
In an effort to allay fears of city residents missing out, officials from the city of Camden and the Cooper Foundation announced in early September a job training initiative that “aims to train 100 city residents by the close of 2017.” Sessions aimed at residents interested in the program were rolled out later that month. But after attending one of those sessions attended by about 100 people, city resident Keith Benson was dismayed at what he learned. “Based on the mailer that went out, it seemed like a program that would get the community working immediately. As in after filling out some forms, ‘here’s a shovel’. But what it turned into was an infocrmational about maybe being 1 of the 10 accepted into a 10 week training course cycle to maybe get to work on a site in Camden.” In addition to so few people being enrolled in the program at a time, Benson learned that students would not be compensated during their training. In a city where many budgets run tight, this may seem like an unreasonable burden when the possibility of a job at the end is uncertain.
- talk about this being about trained to enter a union, not “get a job”
- talk about the problem with minority representation in unions: http://axisphilly.org/article/despite-pledges-to-change-phillys-building-trades-still-dominated-by-white-males/
“They said a car was mandatory because thought the first jobs will be in Camden, after the job is over, union members are likely to be sent all over to work and must be able to get to THOSE jobs. So that why “you must have a car that is registered to you and insured now.””
In a city in which 36% of households have no access to a car, this is another high barrier to employment. And since the jobs are in a city with public transportation, why should that disqualify you?