I hope this message finds you in good health! There’s so much going on with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and impending New York State budget. To help slow the spread of COVID-19, we’ve canceled our in-person mobilizations until further notice, but we’re not backing down in this fight for budget justice. We’re so close to a final budget and there’s a lot on the line.
We’re inviting you to get on the line with us for a Telephone Town Hall on Tuesday, March 17 AT 6 p.m. or join our Going the Distance at-home community of action takers! Sign up here to let us know you’re ready to take action.
This is the perfect time to talk about why all workers deserve a fair minimum wage and paid sick leave, housing stability and quality health care. Times like this reveal the weaknesses in our politics and society. Right now we’re doing a big push to pass paid sick days for all workers in New York and expect to see legislation any day now. We’re also fighting to keep people in their homes by passing a statewide moratorium on evictions. Add your name to that petition here if you haven’t already. Legislation has been introduced in both houses as a result of the petition, which is now at 13,000+ signatures!
For more information about COVID-19, visit the New York State Department of Health’s website here or call the Novel COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-364-3065.
Now, let’s get into some of our recent actions and events!
Tamea Dixon is co-chair of the Election and Endorsements Committee at our Western New York chapter in Buffalo! Tamea has been working to get people fired up and involved in the campaign to elect our progressive candidate Adam Bojak for State Assembly.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to represent such a progressive organization who is taking a stand for all of our citizens in having more fulfilling lives and better opportunities.” – Tamea Dixon
Around the State
On Wednesday, March 11, we joined our coalition partners with the New York Statewide Paid Leave Coalition (NYSPLC) for a press conference in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Blue Carreker, our campaign manager and NYSPLC facilitator, has worked tirelessly with the coalition to ensure we get a comprehensive Paid Sick Days bill that covers all employees in New York. Read the press release here and news coverage here.
If you’re following us on social media, this was hard to miss this week: We joined our coalition partners to launch a petition calling for a statewide moratorium on evictions! New York City and local authorities around the nation and world have already taken action on this. Forcing people out of their homes during a public health crisis is not only cruel, but will also increase homelessness and potentially expose New York’s most vulnerable residents to COVID-19.
We were back at the Capitol on Tuesday, March 10, for a rally to reject bail reform rollbacks, letting opponents – including Governor Cuomo – know that New York cannot go backwards on this issue. In the past, some judges, DAs and law enforcement used their “discretion” to abuse the law and lock up legally innocent Black, Brown and low-income people. As you may know, Governor Cuomo was quoted as saying he would not pass the budget if it did not include bail reform amendments.
Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal speaking at the bail reform rally.
On March 7, our Rochester chapter and political education program manager Ravi Mangla hosted a Fund Our Schools Workshop with students, parents and teachers. They discussed the vast inequities students in Rochester are facing and how raising taxes on the ultra rich in the state budget can close the funding gap and support student learning. New York State owes Rochester schools $86 million and the school district was recently forced to make devastating mid-year cuts to teachers and staff as a result.
Our Central New York chapter has been making their voices heard on the issues that matter to our communities, from rejecting Utica Councilman Jack LoMedico’s harmful bail rollback resolution to calling out the school board’s lack of transparency. Activists were at the Common Council’s meeting on Monday, March 4.
Western New York – Under the leadership of our Western New York chapter’s Education Committee, activists were in Albany on Tuesday, March 3, demanding education equity for school districts statewide. It’s no secret that schools in low-income and predominantly Black and Brown communities are severely underfunded. More than $100 million is owed to schools in Buffalo and billions more owed to schools across New York.
“We’re not asking for money, we’re demanding money. Do you hear us? Our systems are harming Black and Brown communities.” – Christian Parra, Buffalo Organizer
On March 3, our New York City chapter announced its endorsement for state Assembly and Congress, including Assembly members Catalina Cruz (District 39, Queens), Diana Richardson (District 43, Brooklyn), Yuh-Line Niou (District 65, Manhattan), Linda Rosenthal (District 67, Manhattan), Harvey Epstein (District 74, Manhattan) and Dick Gottfried (District 75, Manhattan), and U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (District 14, Bronx/Queens) and Jerry Nadler (District 10, Manhattan).
On Sunday, March 1, our Rochester chapter hosted a special screening of “Just Mercy,” a film based on Bryan Stevenson’s acclaimed memoir, and a panel discussion about mass incarceration and the justice system.
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“It’s okay to be anxious, scared, angry or sad because of coronavirus” – @gmf.desgins
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the impact of the coronavirus, taking a moment to monitor your breathing may help. You can do this with breathing exercises, which help to relax and detoxify the body. While it’s perfectly normal to be worried, healthy thoughts and practices will go a long way right now. And remember, we’re in this together! I encourage you to join our Going the Distance group to stay connected to the movement during this crisis. Let’s encourage each other to,