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LRC Starts Out March Strong with Two Actions in Albany!

Updated: Apr 23

It's been quite the start to March at the Labor-Religion Coalition! We're just 8 days into the month and already we've helped to coordinate two actions, bringing faith leaders and everyday New Yorkers to the State Capital to demand that New York take better care of it's poor and low-income communities. We also worked alongside the New York State Poor People's Campaign to release the 2024 State of the State report, which builds on the report they released last January and dives deeper into policies that could make meaningful and lasting changes. You can read more about each of those below!


You'll also find a note about the Fair Elections Lunchtime Teach-in we hosted in late February (thank you to everyone who attended!), a report back from the #BrooklynNeedsDownstate rally, and a list of upcoming LRC events. Included on the list is the 2024 Moral Fusion Leadership Awards, which have been scheduled for Wednesday, May 22nd at the Albany Labor Temple. Tickets go on sale next week, so be on the lookout for more information coming soon!

In solidarity,

Rev. West McNeill


Labor-Religion Coalition joins the New York State Poor People’s Campaign and Hundreds Across the Country for a National Day of Action!

On Saturday, March 2nd, as part of a coordinated effort across 32 state capitals, the Labor-Religion Coalition and the New York State Poor People’s Campaign brought hundreds of New Yorkers together in Albany to demand that our elected officials address the crisis of death by poverty. Each year, 800 people die from poverty in the United States, despite our country being the richest nation in the world. Our day began with a march and rally, and after that we heard from 10 testifiers—activists, organizers, and every New Yorkers from across the state—who shared their stories in an effort to shift the narrative and demand justice.

Albany-based activist Bebhinn Francis spoke about the impact of poverty and New York’s State’s ongoing housing crisis on her life, saying “The system is failing me. I’ve done all the things they tell you to do…and I’m on a two-year waiting list for housing. I’m struggling.”

Overall, the day was extremely powerful and the energy was palpable throughout the rally, march, and speakout. The Labor-Religion Coalition remains steadfast in our mission to eradicate poverty in New York State, and will continue to work to hold our state government accountable for the policy decisions they’ve made that leave more than 8 million New Yorkers without the resources and services they need to survive.


The New York State Poor People’s Campaign Releases 2024 State of the State Report


Earlier this week, the New York State Poor People’s Campaign released the 2024 Poor People’s State of the State Report. The 2024 report builds on the first Poor People’s State of the State report, released last year, which conveyed the dire state of the 8.2 million poor and low-income New Yorkers and explored the interlocking injustices of poverty, systemic racism, militarism, and ecological devastation. 


Where last year’s report focused on facts, statistics, and testimonies from impacted people, this year’s report dives deeper into policies that could make meaningful and lasting changes. In many cases, our elected officials only partially addressed the needs of poor and low-income New Yorkers, and in many others, they completely failed, following instead the policy prescriptions of Wall Street and the wealthy real estate sector.


Additionally, the 2024 report explores how the New York State government could address the numerous ongoing crises of discriminatory policing, poverty wages, unaffordable housing, out-of-control military spending, and environmental degradation.  It highlights proposed legislation and campaigns that could make lasting and meaningful changes for the 43 percent of New Yorkers who are poor or low-income. 


Read and download the 2024 Poor People’s State of the State Report here


Labor-Religion Coalition, Invest in Our New York Campaign, and Faith Partners Bring Religious Leaders to Albany to Talk about the Need for a Moral New York State Budget


On Monday, March 4th, the Labor-Religion Coalition joined forces with the Invest in Our New York Campaign (IONY), Churches United for Fair Housing (CUFFH), Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), NYS Poor People’s Campaign, Kairos Center, and the Muslim Community Network (MCN) to bring faith leaders of all traditions to Albany for United for a Moral Budget: Religious Leader Advocacy Day. 


We arrived at the Capitol and began our day strong by meeting with legislators about the need for a moral budget that addresses the needs of all New Yorkers and by dropping off IONY materials to the legislators that weren’t able to meet with us. 


In the afternoon, we held a press conference where we heard from faith leaders, campaign partners, and our advocates in the New York State legislature. "We cannot continue to ignore the stark reality of economic inequality in New York State," said Rev. West McNeill, Executive Director of the Labor-Religion Coalition. "It is morally indefensible that in a state with such abundance, so many of our fellow New Yorkers struggle to make ends meet. Governor Hochul's proposed budget further exacerbates this injustice by prioritizing fiscal cuts over investment in critical programs. We urge our legislators to stand with us in advocating for economic justice and demanding that the wealthiest individuals and corporations pay their fair share."


After our press event, we continued to meet with legislators to emphasize the need for a more equitable economy in New York State, and our vision for doing that by increasing taxes on the ultra-wealthy and reinvesting those funds into our communities.


The day was a success as we were able to facilitate meetings between legislators and faith leaders of a variety of traditions, who drew the connection between their faith’s priorities for a just and moral society and addressing the needs of New York’s poor and low-income communities. As New York State budget season continues, LRC will continue to advocate for both the IONY bill package and a New York State budget that puts the needs of everyday New Yorkers ahead of corporate interests and the desires of the ultra-wealthy.

Save the date for another day of action in Albany with the Invest in Our NY Campaign, Tuesday, March 26! 


Labor-Religion Coalition Hosts a Teach-In on New York’s New Public Campaign Finance Program


In February, the Labor-Religion Coalition, in partnership with Citizen Union, held a virtual teach-in on the Public Campaign Finance Program (PCFP). As a member of the Fair Elections Coalition, we are working to spread the word about this new program, which pushes back against the influence of big money in politics by providing small donors with matching funds. 


More than 300 candidates for state legislature have already signed up for this new program which boosts the impact of small donors by providing matching funds to donations of less than $250. Donations to candidates who opt into this program can be matched up to to 12 times the original amount: a $5 donation becomes $65 in the pocket of the candidate, a $10 donation becomes $120, and a $250 donation becomes $2,550. Thanks to this program, grassroots candidates can be empowered to run viable campaigns powered by regular people who live in their district, rather than relying on special interests. It also makes it possible for communities to stand up movement candidates who truly represent them. 


After learning about the program, attendees made calls to legislators to urge them to fully fund the program  in the final budget. 


Labor-Religion Coalition joins Advocates and Allies for Rally to Save SUNY Downstate Hospital

On Thursday, February 29th, LRC joined faith, healthcare, labor, and racial justice advocates and allies in Brooklyn for a rally to save SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. In January SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr. announced a plan to make changes to SUNY Downstate, a safety net hospital that provides critical care and access to desperately needed health care professionals in Central Brooklyn. These changes would essentially reduce the hospital to a single wing in the Kings County Hospital Center. Critical services provided at SUNY Downstate would be outsourced to neighboring hospitals, greatly reducing the availability of care for Central Brooklyn residents.

The rally—which spanned nearly two hours on what was seemingly the coldest day of the year—was extremely powerful, as our labor and healthcare partners showed up in full force to protest the closing of this essential medical center. We were joined throughout the day by the leadership of some of New York State’s most powerful unions, many prominent Brooklyn faith leaders, and elected officials that recognize the danger of closing a hospital that provides essential medical care for Central Brooklyn’s Black and brown communities.

Stay tuned for more updates and events in the campaign to save SUNY Downstate.


Upcoming Labor-Religion Events:

  • Tuesday, March 19: Join Physicians for a National Health Program - NY Metro Chapter, Students for a National Health Program, Residency Program in Social Medicine at Montefiore, New York State Nurses Association, Campaign for New York Health and partner organizations and advocates across the state for the statewide Health Worker, Resident, Student & Advocate Lobby Day for the New York Health Act, Coverage 4 All, and Brooklyn Needs Downstate! Sharing our personal stories, as patients and care-givers, is a powerful way to illustrate how this transformational policy will impact real people. Today is the last day to register! RSVP here.

  • Tuesday, March 26: Invest in Our New York Day of Action, more information coming soon!

  • Wednesday, May 22: 2024 Moral Fusion Leadership Awards, tickets go on sale next week!

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