The site is the Office and Unemployment and Traning, Hopkisnsville, KY, the time, a month or so ago. It’s a mandatory training program sponsored by Experience Works, a federally-funded, community-based organization that places you with your friendly local employers on a part-time basis, up to 18 hours a week, at a minimum wage.
The list of the participating employers is quite predictable – nonprofits of garden variety, manufacturing concerns of all sorts, an office job now and then – and so is the list of openings: yard duties, janitorial work, loading and unloading, sorting of clothes and other donations, cleaning up after the animals at the local shelter. The typical employer makes prolific use of court-ordered community service, SAP, and similar such programs to ensure steady influx of no-cost, manual labor year-round in order to compensate for the revolving-door effect. My last gig was with the local Salvation Army chapter, and the worst part was 95 degrees heat all summer long, the fellows coming in and out the only thing making the job worthwhile.
Don’t let the nonprofits and charitable institutions fool you, however: they work your fingers to the bone. Because the cost of labor is of no account, they must think you’re a slave. Community service referrals are paying off their fines, usually for penny-ante offences; SAP enrollees earn up to 60 cents a day, payable in a lump sum upon completion, hoping for leniency at their next parole board hearing; my $7.25 per hour was paid by the feds. The Salvation Army bore none of the costs. Likewise with Goodwill Industries, my next prospective employer, except that here they expect you to confirm to their dress code – clean jeans, a white T-shirt with no logo or markings of any kind, one smoke break every two hours, and no coffee. When inquired about the strictness of the rules, “It’s a corporation,” I was told, “and we expect the same of our regular employees.” (Shucks, I thought, as far as you're concerned, I'm a volunteer.) Five days a week, three and a haf hours a day, netting two bills every two-week period. But hey, don’t’s knock it, that’s twenty Yankee dollars a day!