New York State Clergy Sign-On Statement

“Do not oppress the hired laborer who is poor and needy whether he is one of your people or one of the sojourners in your land within your gates.” – Deuteronomy 24:14

Dear Governor Cuomo, 

As faith leaders who represent communities throughout New York State, we write to express our strong support for raising New York’s outdated minimum wage.  We urge you to do everything in your power to ensure that New York raises its minimum wage to at least $8.50 per hour this year, and indexes it to keep pace with inflation.

Please Sign-on using the form fields, and read the full statement below


The full text of the New York State Clergy Sign-On Statement:

Dear Governor Cuomo, 

As faith leaders who represent communities throughout New York State, we write to express our strong support for raising New York’s outdated minimum wage.  We urge you to do everything in your power to ensure that New York raises its minimum wage to at least $8.50 per hour this year, and indexes it to keep pace with inflation.  This is an important change for all New Yorkers for the following reasons:

  • New York has some of the highest cost of living in America.  Yet, the minimum wage is the same in New York as it is in Idaho or Kentucky.
  • Someone working full-time at minimum wage earns $290 a week, or just $15,080 yearly working all 52 weeks of the year.  This is far below the income people in New York need just to cover the basic costs of food, housing, transportation, healthcare, and other essentials—and is leaving hard-working people and families in poverty.
  • Today, at $7.25 per hour, New York’s minimum wage is well below the federal poverty level.  If New York’s minimum wage had kept pace with inflation over the past 40 years, it would be approximately $10.80 per hour today.  During the 1960’s and 1970’s, New York’s minimum wage averaged above the federal poverty level. 

No person who works should be poor.  Each week we witness how poverty cripples the lives of our community members despite their working long hours, often at multiple jobs.  We firmly believe in every person's human dignity and that every worker deserves a fair wage and the ability to make a decent living.  In a state with the greatest inequality gaps between the rich and the poor, there is no excuse for New York's current minimum wage.

An increase in the minimum wage would not just help working families in New York make ends meet.  Raising the minimum wage is a key strategy for setting New York’s economy on the path to real recovery.  It is one of the most effective ways to stimulate the consumer spending that drives our economy, without adding a dime to the deficit.  The Fiscal Policy Institute estimates 7,500 jobs will be created in New York State from the increase of the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour. 

More than a million workers stand to benefit from increasing New York’s minimum wage to $8.50 per hour – just over 11% of all New York workers.   Raising the minimum wage to $8.50, as Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s bill would do, is a very modest proposal that would just begin to put New York’s working families on better economic footing, while boosting the consumer spending our economy needs to recover.

We, as faith leaders representing many faith traditions who work with and on behalf of significant numbers of New York residents who earn at or near the minimum wage, are counting on you to make sure that New York raises its minimum wage to at least $8.50 per hour this year, and indexes it to inflation.  It is the right thing to do—and our moral obligation.