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Join the movement for fair and equitable salaries for social workers!

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Fair and Appropriate Salaries for Professional Social Workers

At Every Stage of Their Career

Join In Solidarity For The NASW-NYC Equitable Salaries Campaign

NASW-NYC is making the issue of social work salaries a major priority, reflecting a longstanding concern for professional social workers serving New Yorkers in need.  NASW members are urged to join this campaign to make equitable professional salaries a public issue.  Read the statement below and sign-on now.  

Together, we will push this issue forward with employers, boards of directors, government officials and policy makers, foundations, and labor unions. 

What We Believe about the Value and Worth of Professional Social Workers

The National Association of Social Workers, New York City Chapter believes that social workers must be paid commensurate with their major contributions to social programs, based on their education, experience and the effectiveness of the profession.  Given the intrinsic value of people’s lives and the value social workers bring to service delivery, social workers must be paid fair and appropriate salaries. 

Capturing over 100 years of accumulated practice wisdom, social workers receive the world’s best advanced professional education that prepares them to intervene in the most intractable social problems, using evidence based knowledge, theory and methods.

Professional social workers serve people from every sector of the City struggling with life’s greatest challenges.  We help individuals, families, groups and communities identify and develop capacities, resources and opportunities in the face of such difficulties as illness, addictions, childhood abuse, poverty, underemployment, inadequate housing, death and bereavement, trauma, and sudden shifts in life’s circumstances. 

Our interventions range from clinical services to assisting people in navigating the myriad social systems that impinge on people’s lives, based on assessments that identify critical areas where change is likely to occur.  The results frequently prevent more acute need for services and can alter the course of people’s lives.  Under many circumstances this avoids the need for high cost programs and services.

The Impact of Inequitable Salaries

Social workers report significant challenges in meeting the high cost of living in New York City while facing one of the highest debt to salary ratios of any profession in public service, given the amount of loans required to obtain an education.  Social workers are generally one of the lowest paid professions providing services to the public, despite paying the same tuition for graduate education as higher paid professions.  Social workers are frequently paid lower than comparable professions within the same institution, including professions that require less education.

The impact of inequitable salaries includes the necessity of leaving one’s job for alternative opportunities both in and out of social work while many social workers have little choice but to persevere in economically difficult circumstances.  Not surprisingly, many social workers report the necessity to work in more than one job. 

What is Required at Every Stage of a Social Workers’ Career

Fair and appropriate salaries are required for social workers at every stage of their career, and this needs to be reflected at the entry level, in the provision of steps based on experience and the attainment of specialized knowledge and skill, and changes in the cost of living. 

Immediate and Long Term Implications

On a larger policy level, we must also recognize that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for social workers to greatly expand by as much as 24%, depending on the service area.  This includes the need for more social workers to work with our aging population, the need for more bi-lingual and bi-cultural social workers, and the increasing demand for professional social workers as a result of the Affordable Care Act and mental health parity being federal law. 

Without fair and equitable salaries, many future professionals will forgo careers in this field.  The challenge is both immediate and long term.

The Goals of the Campaign

NASW-NYC recognizes that the economic underpinnings of social work salaries are often limited by the funding that employers receive for the provision of services.  In addition, NASW is not a labor union and is not permitted by law to call a strike or a boycott.  Nevertheless, we must not be silenced by these circumstances but should see this as a challenge to be addressed. 

The first step in this effort is to build a ground swell of support among social workers to assure that fair and equitable salaries is a priority for the social work profession through a sign-on campaign.  Being united as a profession is key to a the sustained effort required to bring about change.

What we are calling for is that employers of social workers, along with those who are involved with the funding for professional staff, including agency board of directors, government officials and policy makers, foundations and labor unions, recognize that professional level salaries must be based on education, experience and the value and contribution to the services provided. 

We will form partnerships and work together, collaboratively and through advocacy, to lift social work salaries commensurate to the level of respect and value of the profession. 

Activities in 2014 will include:

Letters to and meetings with social work employers across service delivery systems in NYC making the case for equitable salaries, recommendations for increasing salaries, and soliciting feedback.

Communications with NYC elected officials, including the Mayor and his staff, commissioners, City Council Members and Borough Presidents.

Updating members on the progress of the campaign

All of us must make every effort to ameliorate this inequity in service provision.  

Together we will make a difference.

Note: You have the option of signing on publicly or anonymously. The total number of signees will be public information.

Today: NASW-NYC is counting on you

NASW-NYC needs your help with “Call to action: Join the NASW-NYC Campaign for Fair and Equitable Social Work Salaries!”. Join NASW-NYC and 4,964 supporters today.