Written By: John Furman

This past fall, Central New York Citizen Action began the process of becoming an official chapter of Citizen Action of New York. On Jan. 26, the Citizen Action statewide membership board accepted our petition to join as a full-fledged chapter. We now have a full-time organizer and will soon be opening up an office.

We made it to our goal because so many local residents became members and worked so hard on all of our campaigns and actions, from fighting federal health care cuts to helping organize the Utica Women’s March (thank you!). Now let’s keep growing and delivering progressive action in our communities. To join as a monthly contributing member and help us secure our long-term sustainability as a chapter, please go to this link: http://citizenactionny.org/member

Campaign to price pollution and fund solution in NY gains momentum

New York has been the bearer of much good climate news recently, from Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to divesting New York City’s pension funds from the fossil fuel industry to Governor Cuomo’s support for divesting New York State, to the state’s expansion of offshore wind energy. However, this has moved New York from a walk to a jog on climate, while climate science tells us we need to be in an all-out sprint to protect our homes, health, and futures.

We need a comprehensive plan to power New York with 100% renewable energy in the next few decades, and we can fund the transition by making big polluters pay for the damage they continue to cause to our health and state.

A fall 2017 study from the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts provides some critical numbers. Study author and prominent climate economist Dr. Robert Pollin shows that to get to 100% renewable energy by 2050, New York would have to invest around $5B per year in supporting the transition. For reference, Governor Cuomo’s administration currently has $5B allocated to support renewable energy over the next ten years.

Luckily, the study points the way to solutions, too. Pollin found that putting a fee on corporate polluters starting at around $35/ton of carbon emissions (and increasing slowly over time) would generate around $7B for New York every single year. We could reinvest that revenue in energy rebates for low-income families, renewable energy, transit expansion, workers moving to the renewable economy, energy efficiency, climate-impacted communities, and more. This kind of massive investment would also generate 150,000 new jobs for New York every year.

If my neighbors were throwing their trash in my yard – and made me pay for cleanup – I would be furious! Yet that is what we allow fossil fuel companies to do, when we pay for the health costs of breathing dirty air and have our communities foot the bill of climate-exacerbated disaster recovery.

That’s why New York Renews – a coalition of more than 130 environmental, labor, and community organizations across the state including Citizen Action and the Working Families Party – has been developing a proposal to price pollution and fund solutions to introduce in the legislative session this year. This will be the coalition’s second bill introduced; their Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) would commit New York to 100% renewable energy by 2050 and has already passed the Assembly twice but has been stalled in the Senate by members of the Independent Democratic Conference.

There is a lot of work to do to make this bold climate agenda possible in New York, and communities are building momentum among local elected officials, state legislators, and the Governor’s office. If you care about helping New York serve a model for how to address climate change – while keeping the most vulnerable communities and workers at the forefront – I would encourage you to get in touch and involved with the NY Renews campaign.

 

Local Residents Campaign for One Fair Wage

 

It’s time for NY’s 400,000 tipped workers to earn a living wage! We need your support!

The opposition — which wants to keep hourly wages at the poverty level and keep workers who rely on tips at increased risk of sexual harassment, discrimination, and wage theft — has started a scaremongering campaign, telling tipped workers the LIE that One Fair Wage means the end of tipping. This is NOT TRUE! The goal of One Fair Wage is to raise the hourly wage of tipped workers to the regular minimum wage while still getting to KEEP YOUR TIPS!

There are over 133,000 tipped workers working Upstate, and 92% of these work in the restaurant industry. These employees will see their first raise in 2016, up to $7.50 from $5.00, although the state minimum wage will go to $9.00/hour and looks set to rise higher.

To compensate, they must rely on tips that fluctuate based on season, shift, and scheduling practices. As a result, tipped restaurant workers earn a median income of just $12,293 a year in Upstate New York.

Replacing the subminimum wage with One Fair Wage of $15.00/hour would result in a total economic stimulus of more than 6.9 billion for New York State. Higher wages reduce turnover among the restaurant staff and pour millions of dollars back into the local economy. The seven states that have already eliminated the subminimum wage have higher per capita sales and higher job growth in the restaurant industry.

Nearly 70% of tipped restaurant workers in upstate New York are women, many of whom are mothers providing for their families. Paying these women a subminimum wage is in effect legislated pay inequity for a largely female workforce.

The subminimum wage requires tipped restaurant workers to depend heavily on gratuities, forcing them to tolerate harassment to safeguard their income. As a result, tipped restaurant workers are significantly more likely to experience sexual harassment.

 Unsurprisingly, the restaurant industry is the single largest source of harassment complaints in the US. For more information or to get involved, please visit LivingOffTips.com.

 

For more information on how you can get involved in our campaigns, please call John Furman at 315-725-0974. cnycitizenaction@gmail.com, or www.cnyca.org

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