NEW YORK, NY — State elected officials joined a group of excluded essential workers who have been on hunger strike for the past two weeks for a press conference at Washington Square Park in Manhattan on March 29, 2021 to call on state lawmakers not to leave excluded workers behind in their negotiated budget, which is expected to be released over the coming days.
Excluded essential workers are calling for a $3.5 billion fund, which will provide excluded essential workers with economic relief on par with other workers who have lost jobs or income. They will also urge lawmakers to establish flexible application requirements, which are essential to let excluded workers get access to the funding.
Governor Cuomo has been pushing unworkable restrictions that will cut many workers out, such as requiring pay stubs, bank records, and ITINs that many excluded workers don’t have.
Excluded essential workers were joined by a host of elected officials, including State Senator Jessica Ramos and Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa, the lead sponsors of legislation to support excluded essential workers, as well as State Senator Jabari Brisport, Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, State Senator Robert Jackson, Assembly Member Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, Assembly Member Amanda Septimo, and Assembly Member Marcela Mitaynes, who has been fasting with workers on-site at the hunger strike since Friday. Excluded essential workers and community allies launched the hunger strike on March 16, and a number of workers have been fasting since the start.
The hunger strike is the final escalation in a months-long campaign to win funding for excluded essential workers. Dozens of workers and community allies have joined over the course of the fast, including dozens of excluded workers.
Excluded essential workers have called for a $3.5 billion fund to provide retroactive, direct cash assistance to workers who haven’t been able to access unemployment benefits, stimulus checks, or other government assistance.
A $3.5 billion fund would ensure excluded essential workers have access to the same level of unemployment benefits and other income support that has been available to other workers.
A recent Fiscal Policy Institute report showed that a $3.5 billion fund would benefit nearly 275,000 New Yorkers, primarily undocumented New Yorkers and New Yorkers recently released from incarceration who cannot access unemployment benefits and have received no income support during the pandemic.
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