Americorps Accountability

Americorps Accountability

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Lily Cook started this petition to Americorps Management

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN-


My name is Lily Cook and I’m a former AmeriCorps member. I began a service term in summer 2020 through an AmeriCorps subsidiary called NYC Service. 


NYC Service is subsidized by the Mayor’s office; it recruits members to serve a full time commitment of 10.5 months at nonprofits throughout New York. The role of members at their host site is to build capacity by recruiting volunteers. The compensation is $18,500 total pre-tax.  


Besides the substance wages, there were a number of red flags that arose almost immediately.


I witnessed, documented and grew increasingly concerned about labor exploitation. Most of the tasks required of me violated my contract. I was asked to lift boxes of 25+ pounds at warehouses throughout the city for hours. 


I attempted to advocate for myself on multiple occasions, both at my host site and to my AmeriCorps supervisors. Nothing changed. 


I terminated my service term on October 28, and have since spoken with countless other Americorps members, past and present. It has become obvious that my experience is not an aberration, but a common occurrence.


In the end, I have come away with numerous questions that are left unanswered by AmeriCorps superiors. For one thing. Why are these Americorps host sites cropping up in areas such as Greenpoint/Red Hook/Williamsburg and other waterfront areas as agents of development? 


If Americorps members aren't technically employees of their host sites and thus not subject to fair labor practice laws, why was I on the payroll and compensated directly from my host site?


Why is AmeriCorps able to get away with paying below minimum wages, zero sick days, no overtime and no health benefits to workers without labor protections or obvious justifications for this treatment? 


AmeriCorps is unsurprisingly but disappointingly anti-union. 


It is important for AmeriCorps members to know that it is within their rights to discuss, advocate and advertise unions in their free time.


There are many steps towards ensuring greater labor protection for AmeriCorps members. The first are to understand the issues, to ask probing questions, and to organize. 

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