Happy New Year from your friends at the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State! We hope you and your loved ones were able to find time to celebrate, rest, and relax over the holiday season, and that you've been able to step into 2023 feeling refreshed! Below are a few updates on what we've been up to over the last month and a look ahead at some upcoming LRC events, but first we wanted to share a note about our End of Year Giving Campaign.
First, thank you! We are so excited at the amount of support we've received from you all throughout this year and could not be happier to be starting this year off with your ongoing support. While we weren't quite able to reach our goal of $10,000, we are thrilled to have received contributions from almost 100 members of our community, just over $9,000 in total! As always, this work would not be possible without you and we are blessed to count you all as part of our community.
If you weren't able to give over the holiday season, you still can! Gifts made to LRC in January will count towards reaching our $10,000 goal. Your donations will continue to fund the on-the-ground organizing that equips, connects, and mobilizes people across the state, and will go a long way in helping us to reach this critical fundraising benchmark.
Rev. E. West McNeill
New York State Poor People's Campaign Releases New 2023 Poor People's State of the State Report
Earlier this week, the NYSPPC released the 2023 Poor People's State of the State, a new report that takes an honest look at poverty in New York and calls on Governor Hochul to publicly acknowledge this ongoing crisis. Additionally, the report calls for a convening of state legislators and advocates with the express goal of crafting a policy agenda that would meet the basic needs of all New Yorkers.
New York, the report says, is the most unequal state in the country; the state ranks first in the nation in both "extreme wealth" and income inequality. Nearly half of all New Yorkers are either poor or low-income, 8.6 million people in total. This inequality stems from a high concentration of economic, political, and cultural power in the hands of the corporate elite and financial institutions. As we know, the needs and interests of working people and the poor and near-poor not only go unaddressed—they are often directly contradicted by elite power structures that plague the lives of millions of poor and low-wealth people.
Labor-Religion Coalition Stands in Solidarity with Striking Nurses in NYC!
This week, the Labor-Religion Coalition has stood in solidarity with the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) and nurses striking in New York City, who we are very happy to say have won a historic victory for labor in our state! After three days of striking, nurses were able to reach tentative agreements with both Montefiore and Mount Sinai Hospitals to establish concrete, enforceable safe staffing ratios. NYSNA has long fought for safe staffing across the state, as we know that safe, quality healthcare is dependent on having enough nurses and frontline workers to do the job.
Director of the Kairos Center and national co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign Rev. Liz Theoharis spoke at rally in support of nurses earlier this week saying, "What we know from history is when the people cry out, when nurses cry out, when workers cry out that's when change comes! That's when justice reigns! And that's when we can move forward together and not one step back."
Read more about this historic victory here.
Faith Leaders to NYS Legislature: Take action to prevent medical debt
Health care is a human right—yet the U.S. health care system doesn't treat it that way. One of the consequences of our profit-driven system is that many people go into debt and face financial devastation because they needed medical care. From 2015-2020, New York's hospitals sued more than 53,000 people for medical debt. Making health care accessible to all is a moral issue. If you are a religious or faith leader in New York State, please sign our petition to add your voice to the call for our legislators to take action this session to prevent medical debt.
Upcoming Labor-Religion Events
Poor People's State of the State
Now is the time to center the needs of those impacted by poverty and demand a policy agenda that benefits everybody. We need a policy agenda that addresses the lives, struggles, agency and insights of the 8.6 million poor and low-income New Yorkers and our allies. We need a policy agenda that embodies a politics of justice and truth that can defeat the politics of death, heal the nation and move us closer to genuine democracy. To that end, we will gather for Mass Meetings across the state, carrying forward the unfinished work of Dr. King’s original Poor People’s Campaign, and building a fusion movement to cut across the historic lines of division that have kept our people in poverty.
Saturday, January 14, 5pm
Immanuel Baptist Church 815 Park Ave, Rochester
Sunday, January 15, 3:30-5pm
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church at 1434 Straight Path, Wyandanch
Monday, January 16, 3:30-5pm
Greater St. John's COGIC, 74 4th Ave, Albany
End Medical Debt - Virtual Campaign Forum
Thursday, February 9 at 6:30pm
New York’s non-profit hospitals sued over 53,000 patients between 2015 and 2020. Hospitals are required to offer financial assistance but instead they take patients to court even though these non-profit hospitals get over $1 billion in tax support each year.
There is a growing campaign in New York to #EndMedicalDebt by growing the power of patients and passing laws to protect us from predatory hospital billing. Join this community forum to learn more about the crisis of medical debt and how we can win changes that patients, prevent debt in the first place, and improve health care access for all New Yorkers. Register here.
Religion in a Time of Crisis
Monday, February 13 at 10am
On Monday, February 13, you’re invited to join faith leaders, both lay and clergy, from across New York State for a day-long convening where we will explore the possibilities and challenges of confronting the multiple crises our communities are facing. In particular, we will reflect on the rise of Christian Nationalism and our response to it, ways to connect programs that meet immediate needs to organizing and movement building, and how strengthening connections across our state can help us break down the divisions that weaken our movement. Register here.
Commentary: Ending poverty will take a new look at wealth, too (Times Union, 12/31/2022)
NYS Poor People’s Campaign Releases ‘Poor People’s State of The State’ (UrbanCNY, 1/9/2023)