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Welcome to the Holiday Season! Updates from the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State

Welcome to the holiday season! As we write to you this week, we’re sure many of you are already gearing up to spend the next six weeks celebrating the holidays with family. We’re also sure that many of you have your eyes on events happening worldwide, from the results of state and local elections this week to the ongoing conflict in Gaza. We, too, have been watching—and we join people of faith and conscience around the world in calling for an immediate ceasefire, the safe return of all prisoners, an end to the siege of Gaza and the occupation, and a resolution that brings freedom, liberation, and safety for all in the region.


While that has been at the forefront of our minds for the last month, we also wanted to call attention to a development in the United States House of Representatives that has us deeply concerned. In late October, Congressman Mike Johnson was named as the new Speaker of the House, taking over from Kevin McCarthy, who was ousted in early October. Though McCarthy’s nine-month tenure as Speaker was highly criticized, by both Democrats and far-right Republicans, this new Speaker has already proven himself to be a divisive and controversial figure. Let us be clear: Mike Johnson’s views on abortion and same-sex marriage, among a host of other topics, reflect an extremism rooted in White Christian Nationalism


As always, we remain committed to the creation of a statewide movement to secure economic, racial, and social justice for our communities. This includes combatting the rise of White Christian Nationalism, which props up capitalism, white supremacy, and heteropatriarchy and attacks poor people, immigrants, LGBTQ+ people, women, the environment, and the global South. But we can’t do this alone. Now more than ever, we need your help in continuing this work. Only with your support can LRC continue to advocate for policies that our communities desperately need and push back against those who weaponize their faith against our most marginalized community members. 


In solidarity, 

Rev. West McNeill

Executive Director


Reflections on the 2023 New York State Poor People’s Campaign’s People’s Assembly


In late October, the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State joined the New York State Poor People’s Campaign to host the annual People’s Assembly in Stony Point, NY. Throughout the weekend, we brought together activists, advocates, and leaders from across New York State to build community, learn together, and plan our next steps for 2024. The weekend was a giant success; a wonderful time was had by all, including first-time attendees and People’s Assembly veterans. To learn more about the 2023 People’s Assembly check out the latest LRC blog post, written by our intern, Deb!


Labor Wins Historic Victories Across the Country!


Over the last few months, LRC has been working hard to support labor actions across New York State. In September and October, alone, we’ve written to you about the Rochester Union of Nurses and Allied Professionals (RUNAP) fight for better patient outcomes at their hospital, the historic Writers Guild of America (WGA), and Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), and the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) coordinated walkouts across the country. To say that the last few months have seen an explosion of growth for the American labor movement would be an understatement. 


Today, we’re happy to share updates on two of the strikes mentioned above. In Rochester, nurses reached an agreement with Rochester General Hospital after nearly a year of negotiations. In early October, RUNAP members hosted a candlelight vigil in support of patient lives lost, and released a report asserting that staffing numbers at the hospital were negatively impacting patient outcomes. After the vigil, nurses were poised to strike again but were able to reach a tentative agreement with the hospital, providing a new 42-month contract for the nearly 900 union nurses at RGH. You can read more about the agreement here


After six weeks of strike actions across the country, UAW members have reached a tentative agreement with General Motors, the last of the Big Three automakers to capitulate to workers’ demands. While the tentative agreement has yet to be ratified by members, it should prove to be historic as it guarantees autoworkers’ biggest pay raises in decades and provides new protections for workers at factories that produce batteries for electric vehicles. 


And just a few days ago, SAG-AFTRA members reached a tentative agreement with major Hollywood studios, putting an end to their historic, 118-day strike. Though the deal has not yet been ratified by the 160,000 SAG-AFTRA members, actors have already been given the green light to return to work. 


Join LRC in Calling for a Ceasefire: Two Tools to Contact Your Elected Officials


For the last month, the eyes of the world have been watching as the ongoing conflict in Gaza continues to escalate. Like many of you, our primary reaction has been one of horror, grief, and anger.  


We join people of faith and conscience around the world in calling for an immediate ceasefire, the safe return of all prisoners, an end to the siege of Gaza and the occupation, and a resolution that brings freedom, liberation, and safety for all in the region. We urge all New Yorkers to call on their Congressional representatives to publicly support these demands.


To that end, we are sharing two tools you can use to take action. Click here to view Jewish Voice for Peace’s action items—including calling President Biden, urging Congress to support a ceasefire, and demanding better coverage of the conflict from the New York Times. Click here to use the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights’ call to action tool, demanding the passage of the Ceasefire Now resolution, H.Res. 786, calling for an immediate ceasefire and for humanitarian aid to be allowed to enter Gaza.

You can also read LRC’s full statement on the conflict in Gaza here


Join us on Nov. 15 for the NYS Poor People's Campaign 101!


Join us for the next NYS Poor People's Campaign 101! Whether you are new to the campaign, want a refresher or haven't joined us for a while and just want to hear what's been going on and what's coming up next, this meeting is for you! 


We are stronger as a movement when we learn together. We grow in clarity, commitment, competence, and connection when we ground ourselves in the campaign and our strategy. Invite a friend to learn about this movement and hear for yourselves about what's coming up! Sign up here for the next PPC 101 next Wednesday at 7 PM!

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