Thursday, July 3, 2014

From the steps to the streets: two rallies


Speaking on behalf of the SWEAT coalition

The SWEAT coalition. I go to the Department of Labor Building. With my friends from the coalition. They’ve asked me to speak for them. On behalf of Indus Valley workers and thousands of others. There are union people there. Undocumented workers. And a representative o the New York Chapter of the National Organization for Women,
NOW in the house
since women make up the vast majority of minimum wage workers.

Here’s what I said:

I am here today  speaking  on behalf of the Sweat coalition. We represent workers, union people, politicians, citizens-- and my community, the faith community, the congregations of the Upper West Side. Our Upper West Side Congregations for Food Justice coalition  has unanimously endorsed this campaign and has pledged to stand side by side with our brothers and sisters in the food industry. It is a matter of justice. It is a matter of morality.

We're here at the Department  of Labor because we want to send a strong message. Back in the day, mine workers used t take a canary into the mine to see if  conditions were safe.  The canary would  give the heads up signal. Today, our sisters and brothers at Indus Valley are the canary in the coal mine. They filed their case 6 years ago! There is now a backlog of over 17000 cases! The DOL  wants us to be excited that last year they resolved around 250 cases. Can someone here redo the math? That means it would take almost 70 years just to resolve the existing backlog!
INDUS worker and child

That same kind of math says you don't have to obey the law if you can force desperate workers to accept slave wages....

It's not a radical demand to demand the law be obeyed...raising the minimum wage, Governor. Cuomo, means nothing if businesses don't pay it!

It's not have to change the law to enable our workers to get back what was stolen from them and get it back in their lifetime !!!

Gov, Cuomo, you and the DOL have the power to end sweet shop conditions in the food industry and do it NOW....

And we from the Sweat coalition will not rest until you do.....

Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Labor Religion Coalition


Public Advocate Letitia James and Marc Greenberg

With the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing on the steps of City Hall. Marling 30 years since the first vigil demanding that City Council  take seriously the basic right of housing for human beings. This year is different. Marc Greenberg, our chair, celebrates the fact that we now have a  mayor, Di Blasio, who has pledged real money to begin to redress housing justice in the city.

I begin the rally with a riff on Luke 9:58…Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the children of the human one have no place to lay their heads….

Our new Presbytery Executive, Bob Foltz-Morrison,
Bob Foltz-Morrison
recalls how my predecessor, Bob Davidson, helped found the Assembly along with Father Daniel Berrigan and Rabbi Marshall Meyer. And proudly announces that our neighbor West End Presbyterian will be  the new home of the Assembly hosted by my colleague Alistair.

Marc tells us that tonight, 50,000 New Yorkers will be homeless. That not for decades, not since Mayor Koch, did we have a serious city policy response. And that under the last Mayor, Bloomberg, the numbers doubled. And then honors our Public Advocate Letitia Tish James with our builder of the Blessed City Award. City Council Member Mark Levine,(Upper Westside and Harlem)
City Council Member Mark Levine
also speaks. Maybe, just maybe, it is a new day. A day of hope for the homeless.

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