Open Letter from Clergy to New York Wage Board

Members of New York State Wage Board

Fight_for_15

New York fast food workers are about to make history. After two and a half years of workers organizing around the state for a living wage, Gov. Cuomo has responded by appointing a Wage Board to review and recommend new wages.

This is a critical moment for clergy and faith leaders in New York to act. Please sign the open letter below to the Wage Board and then share it with your colleagues. 

We will release the letter at press conferences around the state on June 11. Contact Emily at emcneill@labor-religion.org with any questions or to participate in a local press conference. 

To: Members of New York State Wage Board
From: [Your Name]

As clergy and faith leaders from throughout New York State, we urge you to end the immoral practice of multi-billion dollar fast food companies paying poverty wages to the workers of our state. Having heard the stories and witnessed the struggles of our brothers and sisters trying to get by on less than $9 an hour, we are compelled to add our voices to their call for a minimum wage of $15.

In our ministries across the state, we are confronted with the realities of growing poverty and inequality. It affects all of us, whether we serve upstate or downstate, in rural, urban, or suburban communities. On a daily basis we encounter neighbors unable to provide adequate food, housing and healthcare for themselves and their families.

At the heart of this crisis is a simple contradiction: too many of the available jobs in our communities do not pay enough to keep people out of poverty. The fast-food industry – which is among the fastest growing in our economy – is a prime example. Two-thirds of fast food workers are the primary wage-earners in their families. But in New York, the average fast food income of less than $16,000 per year doesn't even approach the $30,000 to $55,000 (depending on county), which a family of two needs to be self-sufficient1.

This is fundamentally a moral problem. We can no longer allow deep-pocketed employers in our state to condemn much of the workforce to lives of poverty. The fast-food industry can afford to pay its employees $15 an hour; our communities cannot afford for them to be paid any less.

This Wage Board presents a historic opportunity to change the lives of 165,000 fast food workers in our state and rejuvenate our economy. We call on you to seize this moment and raise the minimum wage in the fast food industry to $15 an hour.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

1http://labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/laborstandards/pdfs/5-20-statistics.pdf