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Our Staff Need a Raise

Our Staff Need a Raise

Our staff need a raise; that was the emphatic message delivered by newly elected Camp Venture Self Advocacy President, Jen A. at the her inaugural event on January 25. In a brief address, Jen thanked her peers for their support and outlined her priorities for her administration going forward. “Our staff, the people who are there for us day in and day out to support us, have gone far too long without the salary increase that they deserve,” she said to a rousing applause.

The Camp Venture inaugural event turned out more than 150 agency self-advocates for a gathering that was the culmination of their 2013 election season. That contest brought Jennifer A. to the group’s leadership. Formerly serving as Meg R’s Vice President, Jen emerged from a field of candidates in an election that heated up once the former President announced that she would not seek reelection.

In other business, Jen named former president, Meg R. as her Vice President and Howard E. and Lee P. as cabinet members. She also left one position open and, consistent with the group’s bylaws, retained the option to make another appointment at some time during her term of office.

“Jen and the group have certainly made it clear that they are looking for some substantive action on a staff raise,” agency Executive Director Dan Lukens said in response to Jen’s speech. “Absent the revenue, however, that just is not possible,” he said. “The agency has made the commitment and is doing what it can with what it has and that is demonstrated in our financial reports, but we just can not give money that’s not there.”

Cost of living trends that have been the hallmarks of New York State’s commitment to developmental disabilities programs, their direct support work force and the people they serve for over 20 years, came to a halt with the election of Governor Andrew Cuomo. Since then, direct support workers with $10 and $11 per hour starting salaries, among the lowest paid workers working in the public interest, have languished without any pay increases for years. Moreover, without any cost of living adjustments to agencies, agencies have had to either shoulder the increases in health insurance costs or pass them along to workers.

Self advocates at Camp Venture and across the state have made note of this and have begun to offer their voices in support of this essential, but of late, neglected workforce.

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2008 Rockland County Autism Symposium Venture Foundation Address
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