VICTORY! A Fund for Excluded Workers

Today, workers celebrate a victory that will reverberate across the state and the country. The New York State legislature and Governor Cuomo agreed to a budget establishing a $2.1 billion excluded workers fund. This fund will finally provide relief to hundreds of thousands of workers across New York State who had previously been excluded from every single form of federal or state income support.

At the height of the pandemic, JFREJ answered the call of our allies to join an urgent campaign led by excluded workers. The Fund Excluded Workers coalition called for a multi-billion-dollar fund, and that New York do more than simply applaud their essential work. Yesterday, we won a decisive victory to repair a long-standing gap in our state’s safety net: the first fund in the nation to provide relief at a scale that comes close to meeting the needs of excluded workers, designed to cover retroactive monthly benefits and include workers in the informal economy.

Betrayal of older and disabled New Yorkers, caregivers, and care workers.

Even as we celebrate this historic win for excluded workers, we are outraged at our state’s continued neglect of the care economy. Despite the incredible power built and gains made by the Caring Majority, our state’s leaders failed every one of us by failing to pass the Fair Pay Act in the budget.

Since he took office, Governor Cuomo has tightened the belt on Medicaid and pushed institutionalization as the primary option for older and disabled New Yorkers. Covid-19 brought the effects of these choices to light, as these dangerous policies led to over 15,000 preventable nursing home deaths. Paying home care workers, a majority women of color workforce, a living wage would address the state’s worst-in-the-nation home care shortage, and allow older and disabled people to live safely and with dignity in their own homes. Yet since the beginning of Covid-19, Governor Cuomo and the Legislature have sought to protect nursing home owners and New York’s institutional bias at the expense of residents and their families.

During the pandemic, New York’s wealthiest grew billions of dollars richer — yet home care workers were paid minimum wage to put their lives on the line to keep those they provide care for those most vulnerable. This budget sent a powerful message to these workers, to seniors, and disabled people - our elected leaders do not care about us. But we do.

Other wins in the 2021 Budget

We also want to show love for a few other powerful wins in the budget and recent days. Kol hakavod to our allies who finally won these hard-fought campaigns: