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McDonald’s offers larger educational plum to seek new hires

McDonald’s restaurant owners and Rochester City Mayor Lovely A. Warren announced on Thursday morning two new recruitment tools that may help the restaurants hire about 230 new employees this fall.

McDonald’s is expanding its Archways to Opportunities program that supports employees attending college, completing high school diploma requirements, or learning English. At the same time, it has partnered with the American Association of Retired Persons to be able to tap into new hires 50 years and older.

The local announcement was made at the McDonald’s restaurant at Upper Falls Boulevard and North Clinton Avenue, one of the busiest McDonald’s restaurants in the Rochester area.

“This is about much more than jobs; it’s about an opportunity,” Warren said. “That’s life-changing.”

Warren later donned a visor and apron to serve some customers going through the restaurant’s drive-through, which accounts for about three-quarters of that shop’s business.

Archways to Opportunity, launched in 2015, provides $2,500 a year for educational expenses, offers educational advisers, coaches employees trying to earn an online high school diploma, and makes English language classes available.

The company has changed its eligibility requirements so employees can access tuition assistance after just 90 days of employment instead of nine months, and dropped its minimum hourly requirement to 15 hours a week instead of 20.

Susan Garrett, a 20-year-old Monroe Community College student who works at the Baytown McDonald’s in Penfield, said the Archways program helped her pay for tuition and some of her books. She is in her second year of nursing studies at MCC and has worked for McDonald’s for a year, while also working at Wegmans, the city resident said.

Glen Jeter, the owner and operator of the Upper Falls McDonald’s, said he recently approved an application for the first Upper Falls employee to access the program.

At the same time, the McDonald’s corporation recently completed the AARP process required to advertise jobs through that organization’s channels, said Louis Buono, who operates 12 restaurants in the Rochester area. McDonald’s offers work for people who to return to work after retiring, and for those who never retired but want to continue to work into their older years, he said.

Up to 8 percent of his work force of 650 employees fall into the AARP age group, Buono said.

“Some have worked 15 years or more years,” he said. “And a bunch of employees came back and need part-time work.”

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Groups call on Albany to implement caregiver tax credit

Lifespan of Greater Rochester Inc. has joined three dozen health, consumer and aging organizations in a bid to include a middle-class tax credit for family caregivers in the next state budget proposal.

Some 36 groups cosigned a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo this month asking him to provide financial relief to family caregivers, who they say spend nearly $7,000 to care for loved ones. Family caregivers provide $32 billion in unpaid care each year in New York State, the letter states.

A 2018 survey shows that 84 percent of New Yorkers over age 40 support a caregiver tax credit.

While the average caregiver spends 20 percent of her income on caregiving, the burden is higher for caregivers of color, according to the letter. Hispanic caregivers spend 44 percent of their income, while African Americans spend 34 percent of their income on family caregiving.

More than three-quarters of family caregivers incur out-of-pocket costs as a result of caregiving, according to a national AARP survey, and long-distance family caregivers had the highest costs at nearly $12,000. In New York, nearly 2.6 million family caregivers provide 2.4 billion hours of unpaid care.

“The rising cost of health care, the limitations of Medicare and other insurance coverage, the increased number of years that caregivers are providing care and improved longevity have all put pressure on caregivers to dip into their own finances to help pay for various elements of care,” the letter states.

Joining AARP New York and Lifespan of Greater Rochester in calling on Albany to take action are Rochester’s Catholic Family Center, the Association on Aging in New York, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, New York Urban League, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and others.

The groups are urging Cuomo to adopt or model a credit on a bill sponsored by the state legislature’s Aging Committee Chairs, Sen. Rachel May and Assemblyman Harry Bronson. Under the bill (S51000/A7209), individuals with a gross annual income of $75,000 or less and couples with a gross annual income of $150,000 or less could claim a credit up to $3,500, or half of eligible expenses.

“This modest but well-deserved tax break for middle-class New Yorkers would be a commonsense step to help family caregivers carry on with their invaluable responsibilities,” the letter states. “At the same time, this proposal would help all New Yorkers by helping to keep loved ones out of more costly nursing homes, saving taxpayer dollars.”

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AARP argues for senior saving plan

AARP volunteers and officials, including Associate State Director Joe Stelling, right, visited several legislators in Rochester this week to drum up support for a private-sector retirement program.
AARP volunteers and officials, including Associate State Director Joe Stelling, right, visited several legislators in Rochester this week to drum up support for a private-sector retirement program. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)

As AARP New York officials and volunteers visited the offices of Rochester’s elected officials Tuesday, state legislators in Albany were giving their stamp of approval to the retirement proposal AARP was lauding.

The voluntary Secure Choice Savings Program is a program for employers and employees that provides a cost-effective solution to help staffers save for retirement. Secure Choice would allow companies that do not provide their employees a retirement savings option the chance to do so with a payroll-deduction Roth IRA.

More than 3.5 million private-sector employees in New York work for a company that does not offer a pension, 401(k) or retirement savings option.

“One of our big priorities is making sure people have the ability to be financially secure in retirement and be able to prepare for their future,” said AARP’s Associate State Director Joe Stelling in a meeting with staff from Sen. Joe Robach’s, R-Greece, office. “Secure Choice is a tool that we want to make sure small businesses have at their disposal.”

The bill would allow the state Deferred Compensation Board, which administers a 457(b) retirement plan for public-sector employees, to design, administer and oversee a retirement savings plan for private-sector employees.

The cost of the plan would be covered through an administrative service fee on the investments made by enrollees capped at 0.75 percent of the total investments.

“State legislators’ support for an initiative to help New Yorkers save for retirement at work signals an impending game-changer that could potentially benefit millions of private sector employees,” said AARP state Director Beth Finkel.

People are 15 times more likely to save if they can do it through their paycheck, Stelling said.

“That’s why this is a key,” he said, noting the plan’s portability from one employer to another. “It’s not mandatory for them, but they can opt in.”

Nearly three-quarters of small businesses that don’t provide their employees a retirement savings option say they probably would offer Secure Choice if it becomes available, Stelling said.

“It’s another benefit they can offer employees without fiduciary responsibility,” he added.

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Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer