September 17, 2015
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces 30 Civil Rights Groups and Prominent Leaders Join the Mario Cuomo Campaign For Economic Justice

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces 30 Civil Rights Groups...

Growing Campaign to Support Governor in Push to Raise Minimum Wage to $15 Statewide

Announcement Made as Governor Cuomo Receives Labor Champion Award at Fifth Annual Amsterdam News Labor Breakfast

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Governor Cuomo today announced that 30 notable civil rights groups and prominent civil rights and community leaders have joined the Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice, a statewide initiative aimed building support for a $15 minimum wage for all workers in New York State. The announcement came at the Fifth Annual Amsterdam News Labor Breakfast where Governor Cuomo was presented with the outlet's Labor Champion Award.

“Raising the minimum wage isn't just a matter of economics, it’s a matter of civil rights," Governor Cuomo said. "The current minimum wage has trapped millions of hard working New Yorkers in poverty and has prevented them from finding a way out of it. This vicious cycle has left them at a permanent disadvantage and the time for change is now."

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PHOTOS

Mario Cuomo was a fighter for workers’ rights before, during and following his three terms as Governor of New York State. He successfully increased the minimum wage twice while in office, amounting to a total increase of 28 percent. He established the Garment Workers Strike Force to protect the rights of workers and eliminate sweatshops once and for all in the state. And he established the nation’s first joint State/union health care committee to contain raising health care costs – an effort that helped workers save thousands of dollars on care. The Mario Cuomo Economic Justice Campaign will continue this legacy of fighting for the most vulnerable by pushing to raise New York’s minimum wage in 2016, with a goal of $15 an hour.

 

A bill will be introduced in the next legislative session for a statewide $15 minimum wage. More information is available here.

 

The organizations and prominent leaders joining the Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice today include:

 

Organizations

  • AARP New York
  • Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • Asian Americans for Equality
  • Center for Popular Democracy
  • Children's Defense Fund New York
  • Demos
  • Empire State Pride Agenda
  • Hispanic Federation
  • Housing Works
  • Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA)
  • Latino Justice PRLDEF
  • League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
  • NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • NAACP New York State Conference
  • National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum
  • National Employment Law Project
  • National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
  • National Women's Law Center
  • New York City Coalition Against Hunger
  • New York Civil Liberties Union
  • New York Immigration Coalition
  • New York Lawyers for the Public Interest
  • New York Urban League
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • United Way of New York City
  • YWCA of the City of New York

 

Leaders

  • David N. Dinkins, 106th Mayor, City of New York
  • Dolores Huerta, renowned labor leader and civil rights activist
  • Ben Jealous, former President and CEO of NAACP
  • Bertha Lewis, prominent activist and Founder and President of The Black Institute

 

David N. Dinkins, 106th Mayor, City of New York, said: "Governor Cuomo has shown leadership in his actions to make New York the first state to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.  I am proud to add my support as he calls upon the state legislature to advance these efforts to improve livelihoods for millions of hardworking New Yorkers. This issue is about basic economic fairness and social justice and is one of the many ways that New York must continue to lead the nation.  Both the Senate and Assembly should make a $15 minimum wage a reality next year."

 

Ben Jealous, civic leader and former President and CEO of the NAACP, said: “A fair increase in the minimum wage is long overdue. For too long workers have been driven deeper into poverty due to a wage that cannot support their minimal needs. Raising the minimum wage to $15 would have an enormous impact on the thousands of workers who depend on it to support their families and I applaud Governor Cuomo’s bold vision to make this a reality.”

 

Hazel N. Dukes, President of the NYS Conference of NAACP, said: "The NAACP New York State Conference supports Governor Cuomo's efforts to raise the minimum wage. We know that this action is not only the right thing to do, but it is the moral thing to do."

 

Juan Cartagena, President & General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF, said:  “LatinoJustice PRLDEF supports this effort to raise the minimum wage for low-wage workers many of whom in New York are Latino workers. This helps the employees, their families and the economy and places the spotlight deservedly on the failure of the private sector to alleviate the pressing conditions of the working poor.”

 

Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said: “Raising the minimum wage is an important, long overdue step toward making it possible for thousands of hard working New Yorkers to support their families. We should do it without delay.”

 

Margaret Fung, Executive Director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said: “Too many families work at minimum wage jobs and are unable to afford basic necessities, such as rent. Governor Cuomo’s push to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr is important for Asian American communities in New York, especially immigrant workers who are stuck in low-wage jobs. Increasing the minimum wage, together with vigorous enforcement of labor laws, is an important step toward securing a living wage for all New Yorkers."

 

Bertha Lewis, prominent activist, President and Founder of the Black Institute, said: “New York is home to hard working families who work hard to make ends meet, but are kept down by the current minimum wage. By fighting to raise the minimum wage to $15, the Governor is tackling New York’s poverty problem head-on and I am proud to stand behind him in this effort. This is a turning point in the fight for economic justice and a true sign of New York’s leadership."

 

Dolores Huerta, renowned labor leader and civil rights activist, said: “Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will have an enormous impact on the millions of workers that depend on it to support their families. For too long those hard-working New Yorkers have been put further into poverty due to a wage that cannot sustain the minimal needs. That is unacceptable in today’s world – and New York should lead the way forward to a better economic climate for workers. I applaud Governor Cuomo’s bold vision to raise the wage and will stand alongside him in the fight to make this a reality.”

 

Christine Owens, Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project, said: “Like the New Deal and the War on Poverty, Governor Cuomo’s call to have New York lead in adopting a $15 minimum wage is a historic milestone in helping our wealthy nation live up to its ideal of shared prosperity.  It’s a fitting tribute to the late Governor Mario Cuomo who reminded us that a society is judged by how its least powerful members fare.   The fact that too many jobs in our economy just don’t pay enough is the economic and moral challenge of our time.  A $15 minimum wage would realign pay with living costs for up to 3 million New Yorkers— 37% of the state’s workforce— for whom the American dream has fallen out of reach.”

 

Melanie Hartzog, Executive Director of the Children's Defense Fund-New York, said:  “Poverty hurts children and our state’s future. Governor Cuomo’s proposal to increase the minimum wage to $15 per-hour will lift thousands of children out of poverty and provide economic security to hard working families that are struggling to make ends meet.”

 

Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security at the National Women’s Law Center, said: “For the women who make up most of New York’s low-wage workforce, and the families who depend on their earnings, this increase in the minimum wage would mean the end of poverty-level wages—and a real shot at a better life.”

 

Heather McGhee, President of Demos, said: "Incredibly, working a full-time job is no longer a guarantee that you will be able to afford basic necessities—much less provide for your family. We applaud Governor Cuomo’s leadership in calling for a $15 minimum wage, and the community and labor groups who have worked tirelessly to make this a reality. This proposal will lift the living standards for the many families who have been struggling to stay afloat and will bring us one large step closer to a more equitable New York.”

 

Sheena Wright, President and CEO of United Way of New York City, said: “United Way of New York City applauds Governor Cuomo’s $15 hour minimum wage campaign.  The 2014 self-sufficiency standard showed that more than two out of five New York City households cannot afford their basic needs while 83% of them have at least one working adult.  As UWNYC works to move more New Yorkers to self-sufficiency, we strongly endorse this important step of raising the wage floor to a level that is closer to today’s costs of living.”

 

Arva Rice, President and CEO of the New York Urban League, Inc., said: "A higher minimum wage is crucial to giving millions of hard-working New Yorkers the respect and economic parity they deserve. Governor Cuomo is right to fight for this much-needed increase, and I am proud to see the Mario Cuomo Economic Justice campaign moving forward on this important policy. A $15 minimum wage would lift millions of people out of poverty and help them build brighter futures - it is time that we raised the wage."

 

Samuel Brooke, Deputy Legal Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said: “Raising the minimum wage is crucial to helping millions of hard-working people gain a stronger economic footing. Minimum wages should be living wages, and nobody who works a full-time job should have to rely on government assistance to provide for themselves and their families.  We are glad to see Governor Cuomo's leadership on this issue.”

 

Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said: “We applaud Governor Cuomo for standing up for New York’s workers. New York’s most vulnerable workers, many of whom are immigrants, seek to benefit from this important first step towards ensuring that all people have access to a fair, living wage. New York’s pivotal move in the right direction is a signal to all States that a living wage is a necessity and we look forward to working with New York State to ensuring that the rights of all workers remain a high priority.”

 

Jessica González-Rojas, Executive Director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, said: "As a leader of an organization that fights for health, dignity and justice for Latinas and their families, we know that higher wages will help ensure that workers can afford food, rent, healthcare, and other necessities. It will also help the economy, by putting more money in the pockets of workers who will spend it to support their families. For women--who make up a majority of New York's low wage workers--low wages often mean forgoing your own healthcare to save money for the family. We now have a real opportunity to see change. We join women and families from across New York to support the Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice and urge public officials to listen to the voices of workers who have been speaking out for more than two years to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The time is now!"

  

Andrew Friedman, Co-Executive Director of the Center for Popular Democracy, said:  “Living on the current minimum wage in New York is not only impossible, it condemns our hardworking families to a future of poverty. Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, New York is making a dramatic move towards the economic justice that our workers have been deprived of for far too long. I commend this historic move and I look forward to the difference it will make in the lives of thousands of hardworking families in New York.” 

  

Miriam Yeung, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, said:  “The National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum applauds the efforts of Governor Cuomo and other state leaders to raise the state minimum wage to $15 per hour. Despite being employed at rates higher than other major racial groups, New York is home to over 50,000 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women who struggle in poverty and one in three AAPI women overall earn less that a $15 minimum wage. Women, children, and families suffer as a result. It's time to raise the minimum wage in New York State.”

 

Nathan Schaefer, Executive Director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, said:  “We applaud Governor Cuomo for joining the surging movement for fair wages and pledging his support to raise New York’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. Today’s abysmally low minimum wage is like an anchor dragging workers all across the Empire State into poverty. Many of those workers are LGBT and already face workplace discrimination and other challenges to their ability to earn a living as a result of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Raising the minimum wage is a necessary step toward empowering all workers with the resources they need to thrive.”

 

Chris Kui, Executive Director of Asian Americans for Equality, said: “Raising the minimum wage is not just about helping hard working New Yorkers get by -- it’s about helping them fight for the American Dream and making sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed. What our Governor is doing is giving hope to those who deserve just and fair compensation, and I am proud to stand with him in this pivotal fight for economic justice.”

 

Charles King, President & CEO of Housing Works, said: “Raising the minimum wage is a vital step towards removing barriers to wellness and opportunity for all New Yorkers, especially our most vulnerable citizens, such as low-income people living with HIV or those at greatest risk for infection, including youth, the poor, and those who are homeless or unstably housed. What we are accomplishing under our Governor sends a strong message that there is no limit in what we can achieve. Together, we are building a stronger New York and making a real difference for the most marginalized New Yorkers among us.”

 

Beth Finkel, State Director of AARP in New York State, said: “AARP New York supports Governor Cuomo's goal of establishing a living wage in New York State, to help New Yorkers live, age and retire independently and in their communities.”

 

Brent A. Wilkes, National Executive Director for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), said: “Those who work in low-earning jobs cannot fully pursue the American Dream, but with Governor Cuomo’s push to raise the minimum wage to $15, we are well on our way towards making it possible. The working people of New York State are fortunate to have a Governor who recognizes that a fair increase in the minimum wage can help our communities thrive. I am proud to see New York leading the way and I am confident it will set an example for the rest of the nation to follow.”

 

Hector Sanchez, Executive Director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, said: “The Latino Community understands the value of hard work, but unfortunately, there are too many hardworking individuals who struggle to get by on the minimum wage. Latino workers deserve a compensation that allows them to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. New York has made substantial advancements in securing a wage that reflects and respects their hard work and I am confident that what New York has achieved will continue to make a difference in the lives of our community’s hardest workers.”

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