Advocates gathered at several Long Island Rail Road stations on Monday to pressure lawmakers to include a $15 minimum wage in the New York State budget. More than a dozen supporters, including Rachel Ackoff of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, held a press conference at the Hicksville train station.
“We’re standing with workers today who don’t have enough money to pay their bills plus their rent plus feed their family. They have to make hard choices…this isn’t just an economic issue. It really is a moral crisis and that’s why, as people of faith, we’re standing up today,” Ackoff said.
Ackoff and other advocates chose the Hicksville train station because it’s part of Republican State Senator Jack Martins’ district. Martin is chair of the Labor Committee, which handles wage issues and is key to reaching a final deal on the budget.
Katherine Bains is an orthopedic surgeon and a single mother. The advocates’ message resonated with her. “You work an hour, after taxes you can’t even afford two gallons of milk? That says a lot about our humanity right now,” Bains said.
The advocates plan to visit all of the districts whose senators are on the Labor Committee, as well as the office of Majority Leader John J. Flanagan (R-Smithtown). Senate Republicans like Flanagan have expressed concern that smaller employers won’t be able to afford the increase in pay for workers. The deadline for the state budget is April 1st.