On April 6th, 2021, we got word that state legislators reached an agreement on the budget that includes a $2.1 billion fund for excluded workers. This historic victory is the first of its kind in the US.
Excluded workers have been on the frontlines of this pandemic, but haven’t received any state or federal financial support. This fund will provide direct assistance to those workers, finally providing the relief so many others have already received.
These funds will help workers like Oswaldo, who worries each day about his son with asthma and is struggling to pay back rent; Nelson and his daughter Chelsea, who survived COVID only to fall far behind on bills; and Dawedo, who was just released from ICE detention and came back to a world in economic crisis. Our members who are farmworkers, restaurant workers, domestic workers, and construction workers have sacrificed their bodies and their lives to get us through this pandemic and to win this historic victory. We honor and salute the hunger strikers who went 22 days without eating.
At the same time, there are some disappointments. Some restrictions have been included which will further exclude portions of our community. Legislators failed to sufficiently tax billionaires and excluded those who were recently released from incarceration.
Still, this bill will help an estimated 290,000 New Yorkers in desperate need of support. When we joined this campaign as the Capital Region coordinator, we knew how essential the voices of workers and allies in upstate and rural NY would be to winning this campaign. To those of you who attended our events, called your electeds, and signed on to our organization, business, and interfaith letters to support and amplify our campaign, THANK YOU!
We appreciate our local elected officials who boldly took a stand and supported the Fund for Excluded Workers: Senator Neil Breslin, Columbia County Supervisor Michael Chameides, Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson, and Albany Common Council Member Owusu Anane. We also applaud Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Carl Heastie for holding the line against Gov. Cuomo’s attempts to sabotage the fund. We are deeply grateful to our legislative champions, especially State Senator Jessica Ramos and Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa, and Assembly Member Marcela Mitaynes, who fasted with workers for 12 days in solidarity.
We are honored to have worked alongside coalition partners like New York Immigration Coalition, Yonkers Sanctuary Movement, Worker Justice Center of NY, Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson, Worker’s Center of Central NY, Make the Road NY, and so many more.
We know this is just the beginning! As a coalition, we will continue to advocate for a fair and flexible implementation process and monitor the rollout. With an estimated 13,000 eligible workers in the Capital Region and Hudson Valley, we need your continued support to build our capacity to accompany community members through the application process.
We reimagined what we could achieve together and we won! Thank you for your contributions to this historic victory.