At its June, 2012 meeting the Collegium joined hundreds of clergy, interfaith organizations, and labor and business groups in NY State urging the Governor to work with the Legislature to increase the state’s minimum wage. The following letter was sent to Governor Cuomo:
June 13, 2012
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS Capitol Building
Albany, New York 12224
Dear Governor Cuomo:
The Collegium of the New York State Council of Churches joins with many other people of faith seeking economic fairness in our state. We urge you to do all in your power to ensure enactment of the minimum wage increase now under consideration by the State Legislature. Specifically, we urge your leadership to achieve a minimum wage of at least $8.50 per hour indexed to the rate of inflation.
We believe in the essential dignity and infinite worth of every person as a child of God. We believe that
no person who works full-time should be poor in the world’s wealthiest nation. We note that the cost of living in New York State is among the highest in the nation, while our minimum wage is less than that of seventeen other states. A generation ago the minimum wage in New York State provided workers an annual income above the federal poverty level. At today’s minimum wage, a full-time worker fails to earn at that minimal subsistence level. This fact is morally unacceptable.
We are all aware of the severe financial pressures that burden state, county and local governments in this time of recession and economic uncertainty. We also recognize that the disparity between wealth and poverty in our nation is greatest in New York State. So we urge you, as governor of all the people, to act on behalf of the working poor and politically powerless, especially in this time of fiscal hardship.
As people of faith, we believe that every person who works for a living deserves the dignity of a living wage. We are also convinced by compelling economic data that an increase in the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour or more would provide welcome stimulus to our state economy and greater well-being for all citizens. We pray that you will direct your considerable governing abilities to the achievement of this moral imperative.
The Rev. Marie C. Jerge The Rev. Dr. Robert A. White
President Interim Executive Director
Bishop, Upstate New York Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America