Governor Cuomo Announces A Call For All Faith Leaders To Join "Fight For Fairness Campain"

New York -- A "Fight For Fairness" campaign began for organizers and advocates to get involve in the conversation by way of the public to gain support to Governor Cuomo's pass to Minimum Wage and Family Leave. The State of New York joined the Governor as a proponent to equity in funding for race, income, and zip code identification by the state. If the minimum wage is raised for all fast food workers, then schools can also receive funding models to address inequality issues by districts.

New York --  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that more than 100 faith leaders in communities across the state have joined the “Fight for Fairness,” endorsing his proposal to enact 12 weeks of paid family leave and raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2021 in New York State. The announcement came as the governor visited the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York, the Christian Cultural Center, and the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. Together, these proposals would lift millions of working families out of poverty and bring economic justice to New Yorkers statewide. 

“This is about fundamental fairness and restoring the promise of hope, opportunity and mobility in the Empire State,” Governor Cuomo said. “It used to be that if you worked full time you could support your family and step away from your job to take care of your loved ones – but that has changed, and it’s not fair and it’s not right. It’s time we lift up the working families of this state and bring decency, dignity and respect back to all New Yorkers. We must pass paid family leave and raise the minimum wage to $15 to ensure every working man and woman has a fair shot at the American Dream.”

The list of faith leaders supporting the Governor’s “Fight for Fairness” includes:

New York City
Abyssinian Baptist Church -- Reverend Dr. Calvin Butts
Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church of Jamaica – Bishop Charles Norris Sr. 
Brooklyn Heights Synagogue -- Rabbi Serge A. Lippe  
Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine -- Reverend Canon Julia E. Whitworth
Change a Life Ministries -- Pastor Peggy Smalls 
Christian Cultural Center -- Reverend A.R. Bernard, Founder, Senior Pastor and CEO 
Church of God NYC -- Reverend Antoine Asse 
Church of God of Prophecy -- Bishop Earl McKay 
Church of the Nazarene -- Reverend Dr. Les Mullings 
Clergy United for Community Empowerment -- Reverend James Barnwell
Congregation Beit Simchat Torah -- Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum
Congregation Mt. Sinai -- Rabbi Seth Wax 
First Baptist Church of East Elmhurst -- Reverend Patrick Young 
First Central Baptist Church -- Reverend Demetrius Carolina 
Greenpoint Reformed Church -- Reverend Ann Kansfield 
Iglesia Un Camino Al Cielo -- Carmen Perez 
Jamaica Muslim Center -- Imam Shamsi Ali
Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees -- Rabbi Eric J. Greenberg 
Mount Neboh Baptist Church -- Reverend Dr. Johnnie Green 
Mt. Sinai United Christian Church -- Reverend Victor Brown  
New Greater Bethel Ministries -- Pastor John Boyd 
New York Board of Rabbis -- Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President
The House of the Lord Churches -- Reverend Herbert Daughtry, National Presiding Minister
Project Hospitality -- Reverend Terry Troia  
Spanish Missionary Baptist Church -- Pastor Jose Quinones 
St. Phillips Baptist Church -- Reverend Tony Baker 
Stapleton UAME Church -- Reverend Maggie Howard
Temple Sinai of Massapequa -- Rabbi Janise Poticha  
The Episcopal Diocese of New York -- Bishop Andrew Dietsche 
The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York -- Reverend Floyd Flake 
Third Day Missions, Inc. -- Reverend Daniel Delgado
Trinity Lutheran Church -- Reverend Sam Cruz
Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church -- Reverend Frederick Crawford

Long Island
Bethel A.M.E. Church of Copiague -- Pastor Keith Hayward 
Calvary Baptist Church -- Reverend Erwin Trollinger  
Centro Cristiano Renacer -- Pastor Carlos Sorto  
Christian Gateway Church -- Pastor Emmanuel Asse
Christian Light Missionary Baptist -- Reverend Isaac Melton 
Church of South Hempstead -- Reverend Patrick Duggan
Church of God Hempstead -- Pastor Eliezer Reyes 
Eglise de Dieu de Baisley -- Pastor Pierre Windsor Joseph
First Baptist Church of Westbury -- Bishop Lionel Harvey 
Franklin Outreach Ministries The Church Without Walls -- Reverend Lorraine Madry
Gateway Christian Center -- Reverend Frantz Metellus
Genesis Assembly of God -- Pastor Fernando Gomez 
Harvest at the Atlantic Church of God Island Park -- Mark Beavers, Administrator 
Horeb Christian Alliance -- Reverend Jean Romulus
Iglesia de Dios of Uniondale -- Pastor Amado Brito  
Long Island Council of Churches -- Reverend Tom Goodhue 
New Life Christ Church Long Beach -- Pastor Mark Moses 
St. Mark Remnant Ministries Inc. -- Reverend Roderick Pearson

Hudson Valley
Bet Am Shalom Synagogue -- Rabbi Lester Bronstein
Bethesda Baptist Church of New Rochelle -- Rev. Dr. Allen Paul Weaver
Calvary Baptist Church -- Reverend Erwin Trollinger
Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains -- Rev. Meredith Gamon
First Baptist Church of Bronxville -- Reverend Lamont Granby
Grace Church Today -- Senior Pastor W. Franklyn Richardson
Iglesia 3ra Nueva Jerusalem -- Pastor Jeremias Cortave
Kingdom Christian Cultural Center -- Rev. James Hassell
Macedonia Baptist Church -- Reverend Darren Morton  
Metropolitan AME Zion Church -- Pastor Julius Walls 
Middletown Seventh-day Adventist Church -- Reverend Victor Dyman  
Mt. Vernon Heights Congregational Church -- Reverend Troy DeCohen 
One Accord Christian Church -- Reverend Robert Bolton  
Shaarie Tikvah Congregation -- Rabbi Carl Astor  
Shiloh Baptist Church -- Reverend DeQuincy Hentz 
St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church -- Reverend Aaron Royale  
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Catskills -- Reverend Erica Baron  
Union Presbyterian Church of Newburgh -- Reverend David Mason 
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Westchester -- Reverend Michael Tino 
Unity Baptist Church, Mt. Vernon -- Reverend Ed Mulraine 

Central New York
Alliance for Transforming Communities -- Mark Cass, Executive Director 
Episcopal Diocese of Central New York -- Bishop Skip Adams 
New Life Temple of Praise -- Bishop Ronald Dewberry  
St. Lucy's Church -- Father Jim Matthews
Temple Society of Concord -- Rabbi Daniel Fellman  

The Finger Lakes
American Baptist Church of the Rochester Genesee -- Reverend Alan Newton 
First Born Church of the Living God -- Reverend Sarah Davis 
Greece Baptist Church -- Senior Pastor Steve Gretz
Greece Baptist Church -- Assistant Pastor Nicole Iaquinto
Greece Baptist Church -- Assistant Pastor Cheryl Frank
Lily of the Valley Church of God in Christ -- Reverend Leon Dupree 
Peace Missionary Baptist Church -- Reverend Franklin Ross 
Prayer House Church of God By Faith -- Pastor George Dailey
Prayer House Church of God By Faith -- Elder Willie Lightfoot
Trinity Emmanuel Presbyterian Church -- Reverend William Wilkinson

Southern Tier
Olean Area Lutheran Churches -- Reverend Gerard LeFerber 
River of Life Church of God In Christ -- Pastor Mario Williams
Upper Room Family Worship Center -- Reverend Amos Simmons
Mt. Sinai Church of God in Christ – Reverend Arthur Jones 

Western New York
Bethlehem Lutheran Church -- Reverend Timothy Hoyer 
Blackwell A.M.E. Church -- Reverend Reggie Smith 
Community Helping Hands -- Reverend James Barnwell
Emmanuel Baptist Church of Jamestown -- Reverend Leroy Walker 
First Congregational Church -- Reverend David Potts 
First Covenant Church -- Reverend Julie Anderson  
Healing World Ministry -- Bishop Leecroft Clark 
Lincoln United Methodist Church -- Pastor George Nicholas  
Miracle Missions Full Gospel Church -- Pastor James Lewis III  
Open Door #3 Church of God in Christ -- Reverend Frank Torrain
Second Baptist Church -- Reverend Mark Blue
St. Mary's Episcopal Church -- Reverend Michael Lonto  
True Bethel Baptist Church -- Reverend Darius Pridgen 
United Christian Advocacy -- Reverend Rick Hunter
Westminster Presbyterian Church -- Reverend Thomas Yorty  

Mohawk Valley
Johnson Park Center -- Reverend Maria Scates
Temple Emanu-El -- Rabbi Cassi Kail

Capital Region 
Holy Serenity COGIC -- Pastor Cornelius Clark  
Mount Olivet Baptist Church of Empowerment in Saratoga Springs -- Pastor Victor Collier  
Metropolitan New Testament Mission Baptist Church -- Pastor Damone Paul Johnson  
Shiloh Baptist Church, Hudson & President, Empire Baptist Missionary Convention -- Pastor Ronald Grant  
St. John's COGIC & President, Albany African American Clergy United For Empowerment -- Pastor McKinley Johnson
Troy Area United Ministries -- Reverend Donna Elia 
Wilborn Temple First COGIC -- Pastor Solomon Dees  

North Country
First Presbyterian Church of Plattsburgh -- Dr. Robert Svenson 
Grace Episcopal Church of Canton -- Father Chuck Smith 
The First Presbyterian Church of Canton -- Reverend Michael Catanzaro 
University Chaplain at St. Lawrence University -- Reverend Kathleen Buckley 

Reverend Floyd Flake of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York said: “When we talk about raising the minimum wage and enacting paid family leave, we are really talking about a core concept of the American Dream. Do we still believe that a hard day’s work should be rewarded with a fair wage and the means to take care of your loved ones? Do we believe that everyone who works full time should be able to live with decency and dignity? I certainly do, and that’s why I am proud to support Governor Cuomo’s fight to raise the minimum wage and enact paid family leave for all New Yorkers.”

Rev. Dr. Johnnie Green, Pastor of Mt. Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem, said: “We all have a responsibility to help those in need – and the truth is that working class families across our state are in great need today because the minimum wage has not kept pace with our changing economy. I support Governor Cuomo’s proposal to raise the minimum wage and enact paid family leave because it will restore opportunity and financial security to millions of people in the Empire State, and it will help create an economy in which all people can succeed.”

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis, said: “I agree with Governor Cuomo – no one who works full time should be forced to live in poverty. Raising the minimum wage and enacting paid family leave will help working families throughout New York City and across the state lift themselves out of poverty and build a better future for their children. The Governor’s proposal is a smart, sensible approach that will change the lives of millions of New Yorkers, and I urge all state lawmakers to follow the Governor’s leadership on this issue.”

Bishop Emmanuel Asse of the Gateway Christian Center and District President Chairperson of the National Action Network on Long Island said: “Governor Cuomo has lead this state and nation in the fight for equal rights and equal opportunity – and he is continuing that legacy by fighting for fair pay and paid family leave for all New Yorkers. With millions of working families struggling to make ends meet, we must pass these proposals to create a fairer, more just state for all. I strongly urge the State Legislature to join in this fight and lift up all New Yorkers.”

Rev. Arthur Jones of the Mt. Sinai Church of God in Christ in Binghamton said: “Raising the minimum wage and enacting paid family leave is not just necessary to create a stronger economy – it is necessary to creating a better society for all New Yorkers. It is unacceptable that millions of people who work the equivalent of full time jobs continue to struggle just to put food on the table or keep a roof over their heads. Passing paid family leave will give so many working class people the means to lift themselves out of poverty and pursue a better future for themselves and their children. I support Governor Cuomo’s proposal, and I urge all lawmakers to come together and pass it this year.”

Pastor Ronald Grant of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Hudson said, "In appealing to the many caring, compassionate and concerned New Yorkers of good will, thousands of hard-working residents in our communities have been left behind, struggling to make ends meet on a minimum wage that just does not afford appreciative quality of life; in most cases, simply surviving. Today, we need to come together and show them the way to a better life is through lifting our hardworking families out of poverty and raising the minimum wage to $15 for all workers. I have supported this proposal from day one and now it’s time for our lawmakers to make it a reality. Thank you Governor Cuomo for leading the fight for fairness and working to bring economic justice to all New Yorkers.” 

Bishop Andrew Dietsche of the Episcopal Diocese of New York said: “New York has lead the nation in championing progressive causes and I am proud to see that tradition continue with Governor Cuomo’s fight for a statewide $15 minimum wage and paid family leave. The Governor’s bold proposals will ensure New Yorkers are paid the fair wages they deserve, and reverse decades of economic injustice that have impacted millions of hard-working individuals and families. I am proud to support the fight Fair for Fairness and I commend Governor Cuomo for making major strides to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers." 

Reverend Terry Troia, Executive Director of Project Hospitality on Staten Island, said:“Governor Cuomo’s commonsense plan to enact paid family leave and pass a $15 minimum wage will provide meaningful relief to millions of families struggling to put food on the table. Economic justice is something that should be pursued for the good of all New Yorkers—and it is clear that for millions of people working full time, the current minimum wage simply does not provide a decent, sustainable income. I applaud the Governor for being such a staunch defender of social justice in New York State.”

Rabbi Cassi Kail's of Temple Emanu-El in Utica said: “As a rabbi and a mother, I applaud Governor Cuomo for his paid family leave proposal, which will make it easier for parents to spend critical time with their newborn babies, and enable hard working Americans to care for sick relatives in times of crisis. These critical, commonsense proposals will lift up millions of working families and create a brighter future all New Yorkers. Let’s enter a new era in New York State where every working man and woman can afford a decent meal and a decent life. It’s time we come together to pass paid family leave and enact a $15 minimum wage to bring fairness and opportunity back to the Empire State.”

Pastor Keith Hayward of Bethel A.M.E. Church of Copiague on Long Island said: “I support Governor Cuomo's proposal to increase the minimum wage and enact paid family leave, because it will ensure that millions of New Yorkers will finally be able to have a decent living. These proposals are reasonable – giving businesses time to adjust – and it is greatly needed – because the status quo is not working. I hope all New Yorkers will make their voices heard in favor of fair pay and paid family leave, and I encourage lawmakers to listen and pass Governor Cuomo's proposal this year.”

Reverend Darius Pridgen, President of the Buffalo Common Council, said: “The minimum wage as it currently stands still leaves far too many working families living at or below the poverty line – and we cannot allow that to continue. We must raise the minimum wage and enact paid family leave in order to give millions of men and women throughout our state the means to support themselves independently and with dignity. I support these proposals because it is the right thing to do – for Buffalo, and for New York State.”

Pastor George Nicholas of Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church in Buffalo said:“Governor Cuomo’s push for paid family leave and a $15 minimum wage is vital to ensuring justice and dignity for New Yorkers. No hardworking man and woman should have to struggle to pay their rent on time or fear stepping away from their job to take care of an ailing relative. Governor Cuomo’s leadership on these issues will help ensure all working families in New York State will be able to experience a more equitable reward for their labor. In addition paid family leave will prevent the compounding of economic hardship on a family who is already dealing with a health crisis. These practical policy initiatives demonstrate a true commitment to honoring workers and promoting family values.”

Rev. Thomas Yorty of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Buffalo said: “Governor Cuomo’s plan to increase the minimum wage and enact paid family leave is absolutely necessary to begin to restore a level of dignity to working people across the state—no one who puts in a hard day’s work should be condemned to live in poverty. Raising the wage and passing paid family leave marks a major step forward in the fight for fairness, and I applaud the Governor for once again being a leader in progressive causes in New York State.”

Bishop Ronald B. Dewberry of the New Life Temple of Praise and CEO Center of Hope International in Syracuse, NY said: “I support Governor Cuomo’s efforts to raise the minimum wage and pass paid family leave. The Governor’s proposals area badly needed to restore economic opportunity to low-wage workers, and they appropriately allow employers to plan. This is about creating a better society where all people can succeed, and I’m proud to join the Governor in calling for fair pay and paid family leave.”

Reverend David Mason of Union Presbyterian Church of Newburgh, NY said: “No one who works full time should be condemned to a life of poverty – and with the Governor’s proposals to raise the minimum wage and enact paid family leave we can change that. By passing these proposals we can ensure that the promise of the American Dream is still alive in New York State. I’m proud to support Governor Cuomo’s “Fight for Fairness” and I applaud him for his efforts to create a brighter, more just future for us all.”

Rev. Troy DeCohen of Mount Vernon Heights Congregational Church and Chair of the Interfaith Clergy for Social Action (ICSA) said: “It’s time we lift up the working people of this state to ensure they no longer have to struggle to feed their families or care for their sick loved one in times of need. We must come together to pass paid family leave and enact a $15 minimum wage for all New Yorkers. By doing so, we can lift millions of families out of poverty and ensure they have the support they need to make ends meet during the tough times. I strongly urge the state legislature to follow the Governor’s lead and make these proposals a reality this legislative session”  

Father Chuck Smith of Grace Episcopal Church of Canton said: “I support Governor Cuomo’s fight for fairness not only because it will lift up millions of hardworking men and women across this state, but because it is the right thing to do. It’s past time we pass paid family leave and raise the minimum wage to $15 for all New Yorkers. Only by enacting these smart, forward-thinking plans can we restore the promise of economic justice and fairness for working families. I commend Governor Cuomo for his diligence in working to create a stronger New York State, and I strongly urge the State Legislature to make this a reality. This speaks to the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ." 

Rev. Leon Dupree Lily of the Valley Church of God in Christ in Rochester, NY said: “There is clear evidence that raising the minimum wage and enacting paid family leave will not only put more money back into the pockets of working families, but bring lucrative economic gains for our entire state. By enacting these smart policies, we can increase the standard of living of for countless New Yorkers and move millions of families out of poverty. Governor Cuomo has shown that when New York State leads, the rest of the nation follows – and I look forward to a $15 statewide minimum wage and paid family leave being enacted this legislative session.”

Rev. William Wilkinson of the Trinity Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Rochester, NY said: “Plain and simple today’s minimum wage has condemned far too many New Yorkers to a life of poverty. Governor Cuomo’s smart, forward-thinking plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 and enact paid family leave will correct this injustice and bring hope and opportunity to millions of families that have been left behind for far too long. I commend Governor Cuomo for leading the way once again and working to bring fairness and decency to all New Yorkers. I strongly urge the state legislature to enact these proposals this legislative session.” 

Enacting Paid Family Leave
Federal law currently provides only for unpaid family leave, and creates a dilemma for those caught between the need to care for a sick relative or newborn and the pressure to return to work and earn money. Moreover, federal unpaid family leave only covers approximately 60 percent of all workers. Furthermore, 88 percent of American workers do not have access to paid family leave – including those who need it most, such as those living paycheck to paycheck.

The Governor’s twelve week proposed paid leave program will be the most robust program in the nation, because it provides double the length of paid leave than provided by any other State program, as well as a high benefit amount. Specifically, after a short ramp-up period, workers will be entitled to 67 percent of their average weekly wage, with a maximum of 67 percent of the State’s average weekly wage, which is estimated to be in excess of $1,000 per week by 2021. This program will ensure that workers will be able to afford to take vital bonding time with their newborns and provide care to sick relatives.

Paid family leave helps women, minorities, and low-income workers. For families living paycheck to paycheck, taking extended periods of unpaid leave is often unfeasible. Statewide, more than 39 percent of single mothers with at least one child under the age of 18 lived below the poverty line. Additionally, women and minorities are each overrepresented in both state and national poverty rates.

It is well established that paid family leave leads to healthier babies. An expansion of family leave has been found to increase birth weight, decrease premature birth, and lead to a substantial decrease in infant mortality. This is particularly important to reducing racial and ethnic disparities. In 2012, the mortality rate for white infants was just 3.7 for every thousand live births – but it was 5.27 for Hispanic infants and 8.96 for black infants.

California’s paid family leave program more than doubled the overall use of maternity leave – increasing it from around three to six or seven weeks for the typical new mother. The program significantly reduced disparities in who could take advantage of family leave, leading to an increase (in leave taking) of threefold for non-college educated mothers, fivefold for single mothers, and sevenfold for racial minorities.

Paid family leave helps reduce demands on public assistance. Loss of income for New Yorkers who have to care for a sick family member or a new baby can lead to serious hardship, which can lead to increased demand for state support, funded by taxpayers. Enacting paid family funded by employee payroll deductions is smart policy because it can help more working families make ends meet without public assistance.

Paid family leave helps businesses. Providing paid family leave also has numerous benefits for employers. Research from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that paid family leave helps businesses retain workers and avoid turnover – which ultimately helps reduce recruitment and training costs. Having access to paid family leave can also boost productivity, engagement, and loyalty among a business’ employees.

Paid family leave strengthens the economy. Increasing access to paid family leave will result in a stronger economy and workforce. When working parents or caregivers are able to remain in the workforce while tending to children or sick loved ones, they are also more likely to continue progressing in their careers and increasing their wages over time. This in turn yields greater support for their families, greater economy activity in their communities, and a more vibrant workforce overall. Additionally, paid family leave helps address the gaps in opportunity faced by low-income, minority and less educated workers.

Paid family leave has widespread public support. In a recent poll conducted by the Roosevelt Institute, the vast majority – 83 percent – of respondents supported paid family leave. That support crossed party lines, with 96 percent of Democrats, 85 percent of Independents and 67 percent of Republicans voicing support. Additionally, in a business survey after California’s paid family leave policy had been in effect for five years, 91 percent of employers reported the effect of the policy was either not noticeable or positive.

Raising the Statewide Minimum Wage to $15
Raising the minimum wage will provide vitally important benefits to the state’s economy, ensuring opportunity for millions of New Yorkers and creating jobs. Higher wages for low-income workers will generate new economic growth and activity, while increasing spending power and reinvesting more money back into the local economy. A report detailing the impact of this proposal for workers and their families is available here.

Key components include:

  • · Millions of New Yorkers will earn higher pay. 2.3 million New Yorkers – about a quarter of the total workforce – will experience higher pay, increasing spending power by more than $15.7 billion.
    · The vast majority of minimum wage earners are adults. Half of minimum wage earners in New York State are 35 or older and outside of New York City, more than 70 percent are over the age of 25. More than 40 percent are married, parents or both and many provide the main source of their family’s income.
    · The current minimum wage is not a decent living wage. Today, a full time job at New York’s minimum wage pays only $18,720 per year. For a single mother with two children, that’s below the official poverty line.
    · The Governor’s proposal corrects 40 years of economic injustice. A $15 minimum wage by 2021 is about where New York’s minimum wage in 1970 would be, if adjusted for inflation and cost of living differences.
    · It’s important for New York’s economic growth. New York increased its minimum wage eight times from 1991 through 2015 and six of those times, the data shows an employment uptick following an increase in the state’s minimum wage.

The economic benefits of increasing the minimum wage outweigh the costs. But to provide businesses with the opportunity to plan, and in order to be sensitive to the relative abilities of different regional economies to absorb the change, the proposal phases-in the increase in New York’s minimum wage in New York City and more gradually in the rest of the state, on the following schedule:

New York City

Statewide (excluding NYC)

Min. Wage

Effective Date

Min. Wage

Effective Date























In December 2015, Governor Cuomo announced that New York State would lead by example by raising the minimum wage for state workers to $15 an hour. Several cities have announced they are joining the Governor in enacting a $15 public sector minimum wage, including the City of Buffalo and the City of Rochester.

Governor Cuomo has also lead the fight for fair pay by raising the minimum wage for tipped workers and increased the minimum wage to $15 for all fast food workers. These employees will see their wages increase to $9.75 this year, and ultimately reach $15 hour on December 31, 2018 in New York City, and July 1, 2021 statewide.

In March 2013, the Governor set in motion a statewide minimum wage increase that raised wages to $9 per hour. 


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