Advocates continue to push hard for a COLA for the human services workforce. We have had several meetings with legislative leaders in the last few weeks.
I have never seen our entire community focused on one issue like we have with the COLA. Every legislator we have spoken with recognizes the need for a COLA and has been incredibly supportive. Hopefully this support will result in a COLA by the time the budget is passed.
Among the various actions being taken include Letters to the Editors. The powerful letter posted below is from Pastor David Traynham of the New Horizons Church in Albany and Bill Gettman, MHANYS Vice-Chair and CEO of Northern Rivers Family Services.
Nonprofit Workers Deserve Fair Pay
By Pastor David Traynham and William Gettman
OP ED Albany Times Union February 15, 2019
The recent government shutdown made Americans feel unsafe. Furloughed workers meant disruption of important services and oversight for health, food security, tax collection and more. We need a skilled workforce to deal with complicated issues and are grateful that workers are back on the job.
Worryingly, a similar situation exists regarding human services for the children, families and adults provided by the state’s nonprofit sector. Due to both a robust economy that has increased private sector wages and insufficient reimbursement rates set by our elected officials, nonprofits are unable to attract and retain the quality staff that our vulnerable citizens deserve.
Though promised an annual statutory cost-of-living adjustment more than a decade ago by state lawmakers, the adjustment has been manually removed from the state spending package nine out of the past 10 years. Nonprofits already operate on razor-thin margins; asking us to devote an ever larger portion of our budgets to compensation places many of us in untenable positions. Additionally, underfunding human services is an equity and racial disparity issue; the nonprofit human services workforce is 81 percent female and 46 percent women of color.
We need our elected officials to include the cost-of-living adjustment for all human services workers in the state budget. We learned a valuable lesson in the federal shutdown; let’s not experience a similar lesson in New York state because our workforce is no longer there to meet the state’s needs.
Pastor David Traynham
New Horizons Christian Church
CEO, Northern Rivers Family Services