Last week, faith leaders from around New York state gathered here in Albany for the 2014 Faith for a Fair NY Retreat, which we co-sponsored with New York State Council of Churches, Reform Jewish Voice of New York, New York State Episcopal Policy Network, and Interfaith Impact. We spent two days building relationships, sharing our dreams for a just New York, and learning about some of the most pressing issues we will take action on in the coming year.
It’s a shocking fact that companies in New York can still pay less than the minimum wage – just $5.00 per hour – to restaurant servers, delivery workers, and nearly a quarter-million other workers in the food service industry who receive tips. Although employers are legally required to "top off" a tipped worker's pay when it doesn't meet the regular minimum wage, enforcement is so lax and disorganized that what's being called "wage theft" -- employers violating minimum wage, overtime, and other wage and hour laws --has reached epidemic levels.
Thousands of clergy, moral leaders and community members will be rallying at state capitols across the United States on August 28th, the 51st Anniversary of the March on Washington, to demand representative leadership characterized not by corruption and greed but by morality and compassion. The rallies are the culmination of a Moral Week of Action, spearheaded by Rev. Dr. William Barber and the North Carolina NAACP - leaders of the Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina. Beginning Aug. 21, marches in Raleigh and elsewhere will call for labor rights, living wages, quality public education, criminal justice reform and access to healthcare. On Aug. 28, New Yorkers will add our voices to this national movement for leadership that prioritizes the well-being of all people, rather than the narrow interests of the very wealthy.
One point of preaching is to wake us up to what God is doing in the world. To point out where the Kin[g]dom is breaking in, make known the justice and mercy of God for the whole world, and our part in it. Remind us of our power for tikkun olam, continuing the work of creation that God began in the beginning, healing the brokenness around and within, by the power of God. It’s not to beat us over the head with what terrible sinners we are (even when that is so apparent we’d rather hide the elephant in the room than name it), but rather, as I heard often in seminary, to ‘comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.’
The annual statewide 40-Hour Fast begins Tuesday at 8 pm and lasts until 12 pm on Thursday March 20th.
This year, the Fast will highlight the immorality of a state budget that favors the wealthy while leaving the rest struggling to meet basic needs. Across New York State, communities are taking action to win a moral budget that prioritizes human need over the narrow interests of the wealthy.
As state lawmakers engage in budget negotiations, the coming week is a critical time to make your voice heard. Their ultimate decisions impact millions of lives, from the quality of education children will receive, to the jobs available in our regions, to the safety net programs that our communities rely on. This is the week to make a difference!
Dozens of faith, labor and community members gathered for Moral Monday on February 10th at the Capital, praying that the Governor and legislators might be moved to pass a moral budget. Faith leaders expressed their concerns over the immorality of a budget that cuts taxes for the rich at a time when education, services and the social safety net are being cut for everyone else.
When Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” on April 16th, 1963 the country stood in the thick of a great movement that would lead to desegregation and a revolution of values that strove to uplift unconditional love for all mankind. From striking fast food workers, to food pantries and homeless shelters calling for an end to hunger and homelessness, to students and parents rising up for quality public education, a new united movement is upon us.