KINGSTON – As workday ended and darkness took over Wednesday, elected officials, labor advocates and community members gathered at the Holy Cross Church in Midtown Kingston for a candlelight march in support of workers’ rights.
The group included Emma Kreyche, director of Advocacy, Outreach and Education at the Worker Justice Center of New York.
“We need to catch up with how our workforce actually functions. During the pandemic what became very clear is that we had so many workers that were left out of unemployment insurance, that need to have support while they are dealing with, not just a global pandemic, but any other kind of job loss, and the minimum wage has increased, but has not kept pace with the cost of living,” she said.
The gathering urged elected officials in Albany to include $500 million in the state budget for the Unemployment Bridge Program, which would provide workers, such as independent contractors and other workers not eligible for regular unemployment benefits, $1,200 a month, if they find themselves out of work.
They also urged Albany lawmaker to pass legislation, Raise Up New York, which would adjust the $15-an-hour minimum wage annually for inflation and productivity.
If enacted the legislation would provide two million workers in the state with a $2,000 annual raise.