99ers NYS DoL Project

NY 99ers and the New York State Dept. of Labor and New York City Dept. Small Business Services have joined together on a collaborative project to improve current services for 99ers and the long term unemployed, as well as explore new ideas and programs that might be offered in the future, barring budget constraints and understanding our current economic conditions.  As 99ers, our goal is to assist in the development and implementation of services, and a jobs program, that focus on professional workers.  Flashmobs4jobs is assisting all 99ers in this important project.  We are especially grateful to NY State Commissioner of Labor Colleen Gardner, and her staff,  for reaching out to the 99ers and long term unemployed.  There are no quick fixes, but there is a solid foundation of shared interest and open communication for all of us to build on.

Posted by FlashMobs4Jobs 

The preliminary forum was held in New York City.  Di Haynes, NYC 99er and professional facilitator, planned and facilitated the forum.  

Statement on the forum from Di Haynes:

On Monday, December 13th, New York State and New York City took a promising step towards acknowledging the crisis facing a group of Americans that is largely invisible in political conversations, legislative action, and mass media coverage – the 99ers.  Key representatives from the New York State Department of Labor and New York City Department of Small Business Services came to meet with us here in New York City.  Kian Frederick did an excellent job of organizing a hard-working, talented group of unemployed workers to this meeting.  It was my job to format and moderate the forum.  The 99ers, including myself, were there to learn about any opportunities we might have missed in our exhaustive searches for work. Local government staff (city and state), including New York State’s Commissioner of Labor, were there to listen to our stories, challenges, and ideas.

No one could have left this meeting believing common assumptions - that 99ers simply have not tried hard enough to find work, that we are not open to other industries, that we turn away minimum wage job opportunities, or that we have not tried to use the resources provided by the Department of Labor.   The 99ers present represented thousands of other New Yorkers for whom even transportation costs made attending the meeting financially prohibitive.  The ones who were able to attend demonstrated highly informed, experiential knowledge of Workforce Center practices and the obstacles that, in part, cause highly skilled, experienced workers to remain unemployed after exhausting ninety-nine weeks of unemployment benefits.  A forum scheduled to last from 1pm to 3pm ended closer to 5pm, and all the participants were still anxious to continue the conversation.  A meeting that could have focused on blame, judgment, and frustration became a collaborative discussion about needs and potential solutions, such as easier access to training and clearer communications that might help the unemployed in the long-run.

This meeting with local officials was an amazing first step in acknowledging a problem that threatens to sink this country as we know it.  I am grateful to Commissioner Gardner for extending the invitation.  The staff were well-informed and eager to listen.  I was surprised to find that, in spite of my own experience (no one at a Workforce Center has ever matched me with a job opportunity), there really are structures and policies to match employees with businesses.  The outstanding question is still what to do about the immediate crises that 99ers face daily when trying to meet basic needs.  I feel strongly that with the spirit of innovation, resourcefulness, and good common sense that we bring to the table as New Yorkers (99ers and municipal staff), we can lead the country in finding real answers.

Di Haynes
99er, NYC


  1. I honestly feel very lucky to have been there. It was an extraordinary exchange, among some extraordinary people.

  2. Great meeting. I hope this is just the beginning of an open dialogue between the unemployed and the DOL. I believe that the representatives present at this meeting from the DOL and the Small Business Services now have a much better understanding of the plight of the 99er and those who are about to exhaust their benefits.Kian mentioned having a DOL ombudsman for the 99ers. Those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits feel forgotten and I believe that having a representative or support group through the DOL would be a step in the right direction. One of the representative also mentioned a possible email link for the unemployed to contact their counselors in-between visits to the Workforce 1 or One Stop Center. Sheila

  3. I, too, attended the meeting and was impressed. Thank you Commissioner Gardner and all the DOL reps in attendance for taking the time to listen & explain various bureaucratic mysteries and - MOSTLY - for acknowledging the big elephant in the middle of the room that Washington seems to ignore. Must we wait until thousands more are homeless? Also remarkable was the talent and resourcefulness I witnessed in a roomful of long-term unemployed people. Julie J., NYC