Leaders Advocate for Fair Hiring in Youngsown

Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Contact: Rebecca Soldan, OrganizerMVOC Leaders Advocate for Fair Hiring in the City of Youngstown
Youngstown City Council to uphold ‘Ban the Box’ policy to increase job opportunities

Youngstown- The Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative (MVOC), with the help of Youngstown City Council and the Mayor is moving forward in its initiative to create employment equity throughout the Mahoning Valley. On Wednesday, March 19 at 5pm on the 6th floor of City Hall 26 S. Phelps Street in downtown Youngstown, Mayor John McNally has agreed to a hiring policy that would “ban the box” by removing the “have you been convicted of a felony” question from city job applications, move a criminal background check to the end of the hiring process, and consider additional factors such as type of offense, length of time since offense, and evidence of rehabilitation during hiring. MVOC community leaders will speak during the meeting and the City Council chamber will be overflowing with people who support the resolution.

A small box on a job application requesting an individual’s criminal background may seem harmless for some but, with an estimated one in six Ohioans with an arrest or conviction record, this box leads to loss of job opportunities and chances to create whole, healthy lives. Checking this box often results in an immediate denial of employment before any other factors have been considered.

“Since leaving prison I have lived a life abstaining from drugs, alcohol and crime. I have done everything I was supposed to do,” says Akim Lattermore, a leader with the MVOC fair hiring team, “Twenty years and four degrees later I am still being denied employment. I am qualified, and I am ready to work.”

For nearly a year, MVOC and its allies have demanded change to hiring policies in the city. Following a commitment from Mayor McNally to residents at MVOC’s April 2013 public meeting, grassroots leaders at MVOC have led the conversation about hiring and access to jobs.

“Once a person has been convicted of a crime and fulfilled their debt to society, they deserve a fair chance at employment,” says MVOC leader Greg Solomon, after meeting with several public officials in the city. “It is unfair to continue to judge an individual solely based on their criminal record.”

This policy effectively expands employment opportunities for 10,000 people with criminal records in Youngstown and an estimated 40,000 returning citizens in Mahoning County who are working to turn their lives around and give back to their communities. When implemented, the “Ban the Box” initiative would significantly improve the lives of Mahoning Valley residents by:

• Increasing the pool of qualified applicants, who may not have otherwise been considered for employment;
• Improving overall quality of life for returning citizens, their families, and their community; and
• Reducing recidivism and making our community safer by giving returning citizens an opportunity for a second chance at a meaningful and productive life.