Momentum for passage of the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act picked up steam today with a prayer breakfast for religious leaders hosted by Park Avenue Christian Church. More than 150 people of faith and clergy from every borough across the city attended the event.
They pledged to gain a veto proof majority of City Council members to support legislation that will guarantee living wages for workers at all publicly subsidized developments in New York City. A majority of City Council members have already signed on in support of the bill.
The clergy made plans to hold Living Wage services the weekend of October 8 – 10, at houses of worship throughout the city.
Representing Bishop Figueroa of the New Life Tabernacle Church in Brooklyn, Rev. Jamel Moore, led the house in a liturgical call and response in support of economic justice.
Rev. Alvin Jackson, Senior Pastor of the Park Avenue Christian Church delivered a simple message. “We are the richest city in the richest country in the world. We must do what we can to see that everyone who works is paid at least a living wage. Together, as clergy leaders, we are engaged in this struggle to get council members to pass this living wage bill.”
At the breakfast it was announced that the Queens Federation of Churches has endorsed the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act. Present at the event were Councilmen Oliver Koppell, chief sponsor of the legislation, and Fernando Cabrera, who is also a minister.
Morenike Dagbo, a retail worker and member of the Retail Action Project, is struggling to support her family with a job that pays $7.75 an hour. “I’ve done all the necessary things to become successful; I went to school and studied hard. I worked countless low wage jobs without rest. I diligently support my family and attend to their needs. Nevertheless, I can still barely make ends meet.” She continued, “Workers need a living wage and they need them now. It’s the right thing to do; it’s the moral thing to do; but most of all, it’s the necessary thing to do.”
Among the many faith based institutions represented at the prayer breakfast were: The Riverside Church, Park Avenue Christian Church, Judson Memorial Church, New Life Tabernacle in Brooklyn, Citadel of Praise and Worship in Brooklyn, Nazarene Congregational in Brooklyn, Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Brooklyn and Convent Avenue Baptist Church.
More than 15 cities have enacted such legislation and have found that these policies create quality jobs for local residents without slowing growth. New York City is behind the times on this issue and, as a result, publicly subsidized developments are keeping people in poverty-wage jobs, rather than providing them with opportunities to get ahead.