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Protest Against Workfare/Slave Labor

by staff |
June 9, 2008
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(Fight Back! News/Mick Kelly)

Minneapolis, MN - The held a protest outside the Hennepin county welfare office, June 8. At the protest, signatures were gathered and attached to a ball and chain, symbolic of the slave labor/workfare programs being pushed by Governor Pawlenty.

A statement from the Welfare Rights Committee noted, “Workfare forces poor mothers and fathers to work for free in order to get the welfare grant. This legislative session there was a clear call from the people, from labor unions and from the legislature to outlaw workfare in the state of Minnesota. After his weeks of lambasting legislators for weakening work requirements, it was the hypocrite Pawlenty who eliminated the only real options to help poor parents get and keep real work. Furthermore, he deliberately set Minnesota on a fast track to force impoverished mothers and fathers into unpaid labor.”

At the protest, Angella Khan of the Welfare Rights Committee spoke: “Governor Pawlenty’s initial proposal for welfare in Minnesota, had it passed, would have mandated that everyone on welfare be forced immediately into ‘workfare’ or working for free in order to receive the welfare grant. When he did not get his way, he specifically targeted for veto the proposals that would have assisted poor parents in getting and keeping paid work and that would have held off slave labor.”    

Tracy Furney, also of the Welfare Rights Committee said, “If there is a job to be done, make it into a real job with a real wage. Workfare takes jobs away from other workers - who then have to join us at the welfare line. These companies that are pimping off poor people have enough money to pay a living wage, and should not be getting a pass for our free work. Workfare is slave labor and must be stopped dead in its tracks.”

The Welfare Rights Committee will contine the battle against workfare throughout the summer.