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Boston Holds Job Fair For City Workers Facing Layoffs01:30
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The city of Boston held a job fair for its employees at Faneuil Hall on Monday. (Fred Thys/WBUR)
The city of Boston held a job fair for its employees at Faneuil Hall on Monday. (Fred Thys/WBUR)

The city of Boston expects to lay off more than 550 people at the end of June. Three hundred and sixty-four people in the schools, including 200 teachers, are expected to lose their jobs two weeks from Tuesday, and another 191 people in the public libraries, the police department and at the city's printing office are expected to be laid off as well.

Mayor Thomas Menino expects to save $28 million next year with the layoffs. The mayor's office says the city is trying to find other jobs for the people about to lose theirs. This year, though, there aren't many options, so Monday, the city held a job fair at Faneuil Hall. Several temp agencies set up booths. There were financial planning counselors.

The South Boston Resource Center is one of four the city has to help people write resumes and apply for positions online. "Some folks don't have computers. They don't have access to Internet," said the center's director, Eddie Downs. "We have six computers that are online. We have a fax machine. We have resume paper. We have people who will help put together a resume for someone who does not have one, and then we do things like work on interviewing skills."

Downs said his center has been busy these last six months. The city has been contemplating the closure of its print office on North Street, where 28 people work. Six are expected to be laid off on June 30. Christopher Berlick, of Roslindale, has been a printer for 25 years, five of them at the city shop.

"Printing industry is tough now," Berlick said. "There's a lot of print shops have closed down."

One woman browsed the information stands carrying an album. Elaine Grato of East Boston opened the album to reveal an 8-by-10 photograph of mounted Boston police officers.

"Here, let me show you," Grato said. "I have a very unique job. I am a hostler for the Boston Mounted Police, and I am the lady that takes care of these beautiful horses, and make them look as pretty as they are."

The department is not laying off any police officers, but the mounted unit is being disbanded. Grato and seven other civilian workers are being laid off and, though the Boston Police Department won't confirm it, the New York Police Department is expected to pick up the horses on June 25.

"Lock, stock and barrel, and I will be out of a job," Grato said. "It's going to be very difficult to say goodbye to my beloved horses and try to find a job in this market. I only know horses. That's all I know. I've worked with horses for 40 years, and I've been with the mounted unit for 31."

Grato was at the job fair, she said, because she doesn't know how to use a computer or how to type, and she'd like to learn those skills.

This program aired on June 16, 2009.

Fred Thys Twitter Reporter
Fred Thys reports on politics and higher education for WBUR.

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