Hayden Leventhal was given 90 minutes’ notice before he was laid off from his job as a bookkeeper for the city’s Board of Education. His manager handed him a pink slip and directed him to a City Hall briefing on how the city would provide benefits and assistance for workers to find new jobs.
When Leventhal returned to his job after the briefing, security guards escorted him to his desk and he collected his belongings. Leventhal’s manager told him the city would provide job counseling and assistance for him to find another job, and Leventhal was hopeful that he would not be unemployed for long, he said.
“I heard nothing from the city from that day on,” Leventhal said last Monday. “That was such a crock when they said they would try and help people.”
But Leventhal was not one of the 27 city employees DeStefano laid off in a round of employee cutbacks last week. He was one of the 35 employees who lost their jobs last September, when DeStefano delivered his first round of involuntary layoffs. Six months later, few of these laid-off employees have found other employment, and most say the job-hunting support they were promised never came.
The only assistance Leventhal received from the city, he said, came from a business agent who explained to him how to apply for unemployment.
City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said the aid provided to laid-off employees is adequate; in addition to receiving salaries and benefits for several weeks after the moment of their laying-off, she said, representatives from the state’s Department of Labor spoke to laid-off employees and provided them with advice, resources and handouts to assist them with their coming job search.
But Newhallville resident David Durham said those resources were not nearly enough. Durham worked full-time as a recreation program supervisor for the city for 10 years, and he said that six months after losing his job, he has not found any other employment. He spends each day approaching business owners and asking for work, but there are no jobs to be found, he said — especially not in Newhallville, an area of the city he said was ailing more than any other.
Other city workers fired in the September round of layoffs said they received more assistance from their union representatives than from city officials themselves.
Anthony Alvarado, a housing inspector, actually regained his job working for the Livable City Initiative after his union president settled on a compromise with city officials, Alvarado said. While he said he personally believes he would be unemployed if he was not working once again for the city, he maintained that he and his co-workers actively try not to think about the prospect that their jobs may be eliminated once again in the future.
“Everybody around here is just happy to have a job,” Alvarado said about the workplace atmosphere in the LCI offices. “We’re all just happy that we have a job, and we appreciate it.”
Yet for Leventhal, that kind of job appreciation is something he wishes he had. For now, he said, he will continue to get by on unemployment checks while he searches for work — but he said he believes those unemployment benefits may not sustain him forever.
At that point, he said, he may have to consider leaving New Haven for good and looking for work elsewhere.