May Day: Can't Pay, Won't Pay!

If you can't pay your utilities bill in May, you are not alone.  Millions of New Yorkers are out of work. That means millions of us will be unable to pay heat, electricity, and water in May.

We need an immediate cancellation to utilities bills and utilities bill debt. Although we have a moratorium on energy shutoffs, these are temporary fixes, and people who cannot afford to pay are going to be facing a time bomb of debt when these temporary measures are lifted. People need to know that they will not have their energy and water turned off while we are still feeling the long-term impacts of Covid-19.

In October 2019, utilities served 7,000 shutoff notices across New York in a single month, and that was before the economic impacts of Covid-19. Meanwhile, shareholders of these utilities make millions in profits, like the CEO of Con Edison John McAvoy who makes over $4,000 an hour. Instead of ensuring millionaire shareholders are taken care of, we need to ensure that New Yorkers' basic needs of electricity, heat, and water are taken care of.

We’re stronger together and now is the time for New York residents like you to act collectively. So if we can’t pay, let’s not pay, together! And if you can pay but believe people should not worry about affording power and water in their homes during a pandemic, strike with us! Then -- whether you cannot afford utilities or are withholding payment in solidarity with those who can't -- send a letter to Governor Cuomo and the NYS Legislature on why you're striking!  We build power by making our individual actions coordinated, public, and collective. By joining this strike, we are utilizing our collective power as ratepayers by refusing to pay our bills until elected officials do the right thing.

We won't pay utilities until our demands are met:

  • Cancel utility bills for the duration of the public health crisis.

  • Forgive debt on unpaid utility bills since the beginning of the COVID-19 Emergency. Also, ratepayers must not pay the cost of debt forgiveness through rate hikes after the COVID-19 Emergency.

  • End the shutoffs. Governor Cuomo and the state of NY should issue a mandatory moratorium of utility shutoffs for at least 2 years. People should not worry about keeping the power and water on in their homes during a pandemic, nor while recovering from the aftermath of a pandemic.

  • Tax the rich to pay for it. Governor Cuomo must make those who profit the most from our current economy shoulder their fair share of the recovery. Cuomo should tax the wealthy so that everyone can be safely housed with heat, cooling, and lights on for the duration of the pandemic.

So far, these demands have been ignored in Albany. Our elected officials have not adequately addressed the fact that millions of us can no longer afford energy and water in our homes during the pandemic, nor can we afford to be in debt for basic necessities after being unemployed for months.

No matter what path, we and our loved ones will be better protected and more powerful if we take action together, rather than alone. When we fight together, we can win!


This strike is organized by a coalition of: