Wheels could be falling off PIC in final days
The irony isn't lost at the Private Industry Council job-training HIRE Center when out-of-work or soon-to-be out-of-work clients find themselves sitting in the same orientation session as laid off PIC workers.
Yes, the county's lead workforce development has begun laying off its own workers -- eight so far -- as PIC has run out of money until July, basically due to what's known to the rest of the business world as lack of "prior proper planning." Others would call it gross mismanagement. More layoffs are expected and feared.
And it didn't encourage the room filled with former workers from Jewel-Osco and Washington Mutual -- of which 25 of 33 were women -- when they heard trainer Pat Elizondo tell them, "I have to be honest with you, anything that costs us money won't happen until after July 1." So until July 1, anyone needing more schooling, help getting to a job interview or to look for work, or on-the-job training is going to have to cool their heels until after July 1.
When one client asked for a bus ticket to get home after the session earlier this month, he was told, "We're pretty much out until July 1," after being pointedly asked how he got to the session in the first place.
The situation at PIC worsens for employees and job seekers as the agency enters its final month before being taken over by the City of Milwaukee on July 1. Mayor Tom Barrett succeeded in getting control of the agency and the $14 million budget -- 70 percent of which is federal aid -- that comes with it for job training. Some of the mayor's arguments could be that the agency's performance was substandard. But the city could just be left holding the bag for an agency that has apparently punted on its mission to retrain and help find jobs for the area's unemployed.
Long-time PIC president Gerard Randall, was warned in April by the state to continue business under the terms of its funding contracts, including setting up a budget. Guidelines were also set that PIC could not discontinue services, give out staff bonuses or issue new contracts without city approval. PIC's funding is funneled through the Department of Workforce Development.
Allowing PIC to put together a budget–though required by federal grants–seems odd since Randall and his team are out beginning July 1. And the budget effort seems to reflect that. At least five staff making more than $100,000 a year in salaries (Randall earns at least $159,000) are reportedly retained in budget drafts, while lower-level employees, who actually do the job training and searches, will get lay-off notices.
Expect a new budget after the city takes over. Randall has indicated PIC could continue after the city takes it over, but it would have to take some exceptional grant writing, or glad-handing, for that to happen since the grants will go to the city July 1.
Randall has virtually run the agency without board involvement, since meeting regular quorums seemed to be difficult for the board to do.
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GlamGirl | June 5, 2007 at 11:43 a.m. (report)
As for PIC, the mayor should consider partnering with faith-based organizations and other volunteer groups to help with some of the services provided. It sounds to me like they could use volunteers down there. I can't believe someone could make $159,000 a year at a non-profit. That's disgusting. We should all be pitching in to help instead of paying huge sums of tax dollars.
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