Growing Coalition Challenges RDDC’s Push For Unjust Business Improvement District, Ambassador Program

[ Rochester, NY – September 18, 2023 ]

The Federation of Social Workers, representing over 800 dedicated workers in Monroe County, mostly in the Department of Human Services, has thrown its support behind the “NO BID Roc” movement. In a passionate speech delivered at the “Split the Bill” Rally on September 14, LaTonya Wilcox, a representative of the Federation, emphasized the urgent need to “bid farewell” to the Business Improvement District (BID).

“We as a union have a moral obligation to get involved in social and economic justice movements, not only for our members, but for the community we members we serve.” Wilcox continued “We oppose the Business Improvement District because we feel it would be detrimental not only to the community, but to our clients.”

Wilcox pointed out that the BID, driven by those out of touch with the community’s needs, consolidates power in the hands of a privileged few. Its agenda threatens to marginalize and displace vulnerable populations from downtown Rochester. The Federation of Social Workers believes that a more inclusive approach, one that empowers those most affected, is imperative for the community’s well-being.

In alignment with their commitment to social and economic justice, the Federation opposes the BID, recognizing the potential harm it poses to both the community and the clients they serve. 

“In solidarity with our fellow union workers,” Wilcox declared, “Contracts are union work. Dedicated union members already perform job functions that the bid regularly contracts out. We vehemently oppose contracting out any union work.”

Split the Bill Rally

In response to the mayor’s late and loose request to fund ambassador programs in three areas of the city, NO BID’s ‘Split the Bill’ initiative is advocating for City Council to separate the funding requests for Neighborhood Outreach Programs from RDDC’s Blue Shirt Ambassador service. This move allows City Council to independently evaluate the need and value of each program, provided the mayor provides the critical details that were missing from his initial request. 

At last weeks Rally advocates voiced their continued concern about the RDDC’s efforts to co-opt deeply rooted community organizations, capitalizing on their need for financial support for Rochester’s most marginalized neighbors. “Next they’ll likely pitch a public bathroom or a daytime warming space for downtown – ” said Organizer Kelly Cheatle “But what good is a public bathroom or a warming shelter if your existence is criminalized and you are driven out of downtown?”

Council could vote on the legislation as early as Tuesday this week.

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