Union members joined 300 marchers, including clergy representing all of New York’s major faiths, in a silent procession from St. Peter’s Church near Ground Zero to City Hall. The November 17th march, organized by the Living Wage Coalition, delivered over 6,000 cards to the City Council leadership, urging that body to pass Intro 251, the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, which requires developers who receive major taxpayer-funded subsidies to pay at least a living wage for the permanent jobs they create. That living wage guaranteed in the legislation is $10 per hour, plus benefits worth another $1.50 per hour should the job-holders not be offered health coverage.
March organizers, speaking at the church prior to step-off noted that New York City is now home to 55 billionaires, including Mayor Bloomberg, and also 3 million people living at or below the federal government’s poverty level of an annual income of $22,050 for a family of four. Among those who carried signs reading “Now is the Time” TWU Local 100 Vice President for RTO, Kevin Harrington. Preachers led the marchers in prayers before the march, blessing the petition cards which were to be delivered and talking about the hypocrisy of the rich people who have “forgotten who they are” as brothers and sisters of those in need.
The Rev. Michael Walrond of First Corinthian Baptist Church said that the level of inequality in New York City was greater than that existing now in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. He said that God calls upon people “to do justice, and to love kindness.”
Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Executive Director of the Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition, delivered a prayer that said, in part, “Labor houses us, heals us, teaches us, feeds us, transports us, makes all of society run and function…all those who work deserve Dignity, and a Living Wage. Society rests upon a contract of trust and equality between those who work and those who employ them.”