2013 Public Policy Agenda
Our advocacy work stems from a recognition that a healthy Maryland economy requires public policies that meet the workforce needs of employers and promote fair and equitable access to economic opportunities for low-income Marylanders.
During the 2013 state legislative session, JOTF will support legislative and budget initiatives that promote education, training and employment advancement opportunities for low-wage, low-skill workers and job-seekers, the reentry of people with criminal records, workplace benefits, and best-practice hiring policies.
Establish Paid Sick Days Policies that Reflect the Reality of Today’s Working Families
Everyone gets sick and everyone deserves time to recover without risking their economic stability, yet 41 percent of American workers are unable to earn paid sick days. In Maryland, more than 700,000 of our neighbors are forced to make impossible choices: Go to work sick, send an ill child to school or daycare, or stay home and sacrifice much-needed income or, worse, risk job loss. When looking only at low-wage earners – the people who can least afford to take unpaid time off from work when sick – that number jumps to 80 percent.
- Allow workers the opportunity to earn paid, job-protected sick days that will ensure they don’t have to choose between their health and their economic security.
Promote successful re-entry and employment of ex-offenders.
Each year approximately 15,000 inmates return from prison to communities across Maryland. Their criminal record and low education levels are enormous barriers to mainstream employment. By adopting policies that will promote the long-term employment of former inmates, we can help ensure that these Marylanders find legitimate work, contribute to the economy, and turn their lives around.
- Reduce the impact of a criminal background on employment.
- Remove the question from state job applications that asks applicants if they have ever been convicted of a crime.
Enhance Education, Training, and Employment Opportunities for Low-Skill, Low-Wage Workers
Maryland’s low-income workers need access to training in order to advance in the workplace and obtain jobs with family supporting wages. In these challenging economic times when jobs are scarce and employers are looking for workers with specific skills, it is even more important for the state to increase its investment in adult basic education, training and hiring, and to develop clear employment pipelines that allow low-skill and hard-to-employ workers to advance through training and into the workforce.
- Expand state and local policies to increase employment opportunities for low-skill adults through public works expenditures.
- Ensure that the state’s training programs are effective and linked to career pathways that lead to high-wage jobs.
- Preserve the access and affordability of the GED examination.
- Increase funding for workforce training programs that will upgrade the skills of entry level and incumbent workers.
Adopt best-practice hiring policies
As employers compete to bring in the best talent, the state should be proactive and strategic when it comes to recruiting the best employees and providing fair workplace and hiring standards.
- Establish targeted hiring goals for local, minority, and disadvantaged workers on projects that use public funds.
- Encourage cities and counties throughout the state to focus on hiring the most qualified workers. Solicitations for proposals should contain inclusive – rather than exclusive – language as it relates to hiring people with criminal records.
- Enhance best practices that move lower skilled residents into the workplace quickly.