Faith Leaders Kick-Off Campaign for $20 Living Wage in NYC

“Overlooked and Undercounted: Journey to a Real Living Wage” event raises economic self-sufficiency as the standard for NYC

A coalition of multi-faith leaders from throughout New York City launched the Real Living Wage NYC Campaign on Thursday, October 8, 2015. Hundreds of people participated in the “Overlooked and Undercounted: A Journey to a Real Living Wage” event to raise economic self-sufficiency as the standard for NYC.

The goal of the Real Living Wage campaign is to ensure that all New York City workers receive at least $20/hour— the wage required to meet basic needs in this city—and transform New York into a Real Living Wage City.

Faith leaders from throughout the city gathered at the First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem for the launching. Clergy included:

  • Rev. Michael Walrond, First Corinthian Baptist Church;
  • Rev. Dr. Ray Rivera, Latino Pastoral Action Center;
  • Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Labor/Religion Coalition;
  • Imam Al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid, Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood;
  • Rev. Que English, Bronx Christian Fellowship Church;
  • Rev. Dr. Peter Heltzel, Director, the Micah Institute;
  • Rev. Chloe Breyer, Interfaith Center of New York;
  • Nayan Barua, the Bangladeshi Buddhist-Hindu-Christian Alliance;
  • Rabbi Simkha Weintraub, Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services:
  • and many more.

The multi-media event included testimonials from Nakimuli Francis and A.Q. Blackwell, who spoke about their personal struggles with making ends meet while earning poverty wages in multiple jobs.

In a call to action, Rev. Michael Walrond told those present, “We will make history. This $20 living wage is not some far flung notion, some whimsical hope. It is a deep belief in faith, that people of faith who believe in the power of God, should never grow weary of doing what we are called to do: stand up and make sure that in this city, the overlooked and undercounted are paid a real living wage.”

Rev. Chloe Breyer led participants in the following closing litany:

Leader: As we stand together and pledge ourselves to help ensure that New York City is a city that promotes a Real Living Wage, let us rejoice in the freedom of God—a freedom which sweeps you into an ever-changing reformation of self and the world around you. A freedom that is an invitation to intimacy with God and the family of God. A freedom that demands action. A freedom that makes you different: God-like, rather than world-like. A freedom that enables you to step out of the norm into the extraordinary. Grasp this freedom and be a prophet . . .

People: who seeks and speaks wisdom,

L: an advocate,
P: who stands up to the forces that threaten our hope,

L: a teacher,
P: who spreads the light of awareness,

L: a witness
P: who testifies with power and insight,

L: a public servant
P: who sows the seed promise,

L: a visionary
P: who sees a Real Living Wage as something that can be achieved for all who live and work in New York City.

Download this Overlooked and Undercounted Slideshow for use in your community.
Download the event flyer.