By Emma Pettersen Syracuse, N.Y. (NCC News) Yesterday faith leaders from across New York state came together in the capitol to urge lawmakers to include Governor Cuomo’s plan for a gradual minimum wage increase to $15/hour in this year’s budget.
Politicians and organizers have spoken out about the economic benefits of the increase, but faith leaders hope to stress the moral implications of this change. The Reverend Emily McNeill is the Lead Organizer of the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State and attended the Moral Monday event at the capitol.
“We believe that the standard for wages should be a living wage so enough for people to sustain themselves and have a decent life. We don’t think that $15 in New York City by 2018 and in Upstate by 2021 really meets that standard but it is a significant step”, said McNeill.
For the Reverend Peter Cook, the Executive Director of the New York State Council of Churches, the issue is personal for him and pastors across the state.
“Everyday, we meet hard working people who who come to us in tears who must choose between paying for rent and having enough to eat. As pastors, when we hear the stories, we worry about the strain placed on family life”, said Cook.
The state budget will be completed on April 1st and the Reverend Cook wants lawmakers to focus on how this increase could affect their constituents.
“As the deals are getting cut, the need of the poor to have a true living wage must not get lost in the shuffle. More significantly, we must not forget that the poor have already made the biggest compromise of all by working for wages which have not kept pace with the cost of living in every part of the New York”, said Cook.