The Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State unites faith, labor, and community organizations to build a values-based, statewide movement for social, racial, gender, and economic justice. LRC engages people’s most deeply held beliefs and ideals to power progressive change, particularly in New York State’s most neglected rural and urban communities. The Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State believes in an intersectional moral message and affirms the right of all New Yorkers to adequate food, housing, healthcare, a safe environment, quality public education, living wage jobs, unionization, and equal protection under the law.
Since 1980, the Labor-Religion Coalition has joined with faith leaders, and poor and working people to advance the rights of labor, farm workers, and immigrants, promote the critical need for a living wage, defend a secure safety net, and expand access to affordable and quality health care.
In the early years of the Labor-Religion Coalition, our work focused on a biannual conference, bringing people together from local coalitions in seven different parts of New York State, organizing in partnership with New York State United Teachers, and working on a global scale, addressing the exploitation of child labor. In concert with religious organizations along the border, LRC organized over 30 trips to Central and South America from 1998 to 2012, exposing nearly 400 teachers and students from across New York State to labor injustices. These trips inspired our work to expand to a campaign in support of farm workers’ rights, and the anti-apartheid and fair-trade movements.
In 2014, Labor-Religion Coalition and our partners began holding “Moral Mondays” vigils at the State Capitol (and occasionally elsewhere in the state) inspired by the Moral Mondays Movement in North Carolina. These actions brought together people of faith, labor unionists, and other community activists to call for justice on issues including living wages, workers’ rights, healthcare for all, education equity, environmental justice, criminal justice reform, immigrant rights, fair taxation, and funding for a strong social safety net. During this time, LRC was part of historic legislative victories including an increased minimum wage, Raise the Age, and an extension of the Millionaire's Tax.
In 2017, recognizing the need and opportunity to build a more broad-based and statewide moral movement, LRC organized a series of Truth Commissions on Poverty in New York State, holding public hearings in Allegany County, Schenectady, and Long Island at which we heard from directly impacted New Yorkers, advocates, faith leaders, direct service providers, and policy experts. The Labor-Religion Coalition held another series of Truth Commissions in 2021 and 2022, highlighting the continuing crisis of poverty, amplifying the demands put forward by directly impacted communities, and helping to connect leaders and groups representing different identities, issues, and regions of New York State.
Since 2018, LRC has provided critical leadership to the New York State Poor People’s Campaign, bringing directly impacted communities, an authentic moral voice, and the knowledge of local politics and policy to the national campaign. We’ve also built out our work to include labor solidarity and healthcare organizing. To learn more about our work, check out our past projects.