This spring we've been reminded yet again how badly New York's political system needs reform. April's primary highlighted New York's low voter turnout and antiquated registration process. Then May brought the sentencing of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos AND former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on corruption charges.
Great news! On Tuesday May 10th, a coalition of farmworkers and advocates - including the Workers' Center of Central New York and the Worker Justice Center of New York - filed a lawsuit challenging the unconstitutional denial to farmworkers of the right to organize and collectively bargain. Shortly after filing the suit and holding a press conference, the Governor responded with a statement that he supports their right and will not fight the lawsuit. This is a major step forward in the fight for equal rights for farmworkers. Read more about the lawsuit and response here. However, there is still much to be done.
People of faith across New York are part of a growing movement to combat poverty and inequality by raising wages and protecting the rights of our lowest paid workers. A few months ago, fast food workers won a huge victory with the Wage Board decision to gradually raise wages to $15 in New York. But the struggle is not over. On November 10th, fast food workers will be joined by other low-wage workers all over the state to continue to call for living wages and a union. As people of faith, we are called to stand in solidarity with the poor, and make the moral case that all workers deserve wages that can provide a decent living. Will you stand with low-wage workers in your community on Nov. 10? Take the pledge below today, and we'll keep you updated on how to take action in person or online on the big day.
It's been a dramatic week here in Albany. Charges filed against the Assembly Speaker and investigations of other officials are fueling important conversations about the need for ethics reforms at the Capitol. In the midst of this, we and our faith and community partners are committed to calling attention to the effects of a political and economic system set up to serve wealthy interests: New York State continues to have the highest income inequality in the nation and more than 3 million New Yorkers live in poverty. Communities across our state are affected. Buffalo is the fourth poorest city in the nation. In rural Montgomery County, more than 1 in 5 live in poverty, and in Rochester, over half of the city's children are poor.
On Tuesday, a Wage Board held its final public hearing in Albany to consider raising the sub-minimum wage for tipped hospitality workers - which is currently just $5 per hour for food service workers. We joined tipped workers and faith leaders - including Rev. Paula Gravelle of the New York State Council of Churches and Robb Smith of Interfaith Impact NYS (pictured left) - in calling on the Wage Board to require employers to pay the full minimum wage to all workers. (Read more about the hearing below.)
The Fight for 15 campaign is holding its next strike day this Thursday, Dec. 4! Fast-food workers and domestic workers in over 150 cities will be striking as part of their growing movement to win $15/hr and a union. In New York, there are actions happening in Buffalo, Rochester and NYC. Here's how you can get involved in one of the most exciting low-wage worker campaigns happening in NY!