(WOMENSENEWS)–On his last day in office, the New York City welfare commissioner Jason Turner dismissed 3,500 former welfare recipients from their jobs with the Parks and Recreation Department. Most of the dismissed workers are single women with children, reported Nina Bernstein for the New York Times.

The workers had earned union wages of $9.38 an hour. They are being referred to a temporary employment agency, TempForce, where they may be able to resume doing the same work–but for $7.95 an hour.

Last year a similar proposal by Turner was rejected by the parks department as a violation of city labor law.

In October and November of 2001, more than 10,000 welfare recipients who were nearing their five-year benefits time limits were offered parks department jobs in lieu of a transition to Safety Net Assistance, a state-financed program that offers assistance to former welfare recipients who have reached their benefits limit.

It now appears Mr. Turner had already contracted with TempForce at the time the jobs were offered. Those who accepted jobs are now facing unemployment in a city with a rising unemployment rate and possible delays in obtaining the state-financed assistance.

The city, under a new mayor Michael Bloomberg, has not tried to undo Turner’s action. Spokespeople said the city government will try to find jobs for the displaced workers. However, with its economy devastated after the Sept. 11, the city has an estimated $4 billion budget gap and agencies are facing cuts of 5 percent to 20 percent.

–Adria Quinones

For more information:

Women’s Enews, Sept. 02, 2001:
Experts: Welfare Sanctions Ineffective, Cruel:https://womensenewsp.wpengine.com/article.cfm/dyn/aid/638

Women’s Enews, Apr 14, 2001:
Turner: Civil Rights Bad for Welfare Moms:

Women’s Enews, Apr 26, 2000:
Anti-welfare Chief Shows Commitment to Self-Help: