Back in February, we brought together activists, politicians, and business interests to discuss local climate action in the age of big fossil. Much of the forum focused on the New York City Employee Retirement System (NYCERS), the city’s $160 billion pension system, and the potential impact of its divestment from targeted fossil fuel companies and investment in renewable energy.
On October 27th, New York City announced that the Trustees of NYCERS passed a resolution calling on the board “to begin the process of developing a long-term investment strategy that takes into account the realities and risks of climate change.” While this falls short of the goals of 350NYC and other organizations that call for full divestment from fossil fuel companies, it’s a vital first step.
More recently on the national front, TransCanada withdrew its permit application for the Keystone XL Pipeline, leaving them the option to re-apply in future. In short order, instead of giving TransCanada that option, President Obama denied the permit! This is a victory for progressive activists and climate economists who have long opposed the pipeline.
Props to our partners at 350NYC, United for Action and other groups for these positive results. We’ll stay vigilant as the NYCERS Board develops its strategy, and we continue to support the call to prevent the development of the Port Ambrose Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) facility. State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal and State Senator Brad Hoylman are spearheading the effort to bring their fellow legislators on board to demand that Governor Cuomo veto Port Ambrose.
You can help today: Call your NYS Senator and Assembly Member to tell them you oppose Port Ambrose LNG and ask them to sign on to the Rosenthal/Hoylman 2015 Port Ambrose Opposition Letter. Then call Governor Cuomo at 518-474-8390 and ask him to veto the project.
And don’t forget to ask that all public officials help make New York a renewable, fossil-free state.
In 2011, we joined faith coalitions like the Micah Institute in the Living Wage NYC Campaign, and we continue to support the Fight for $15. Still, we know that even a substantial increase in the minimum wage is no substitute for a real living wage.
According to a 2014 report by the Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement titled Overlooked and Uncounted: The Struggle to Make Ends Meet in New York City, over 940,000 New York City households lack enough income to cover the bare necessities of life. Women and people of color with higher levels of education still struggle with income inadequacy. In even our least expensive neighborhoods, the wage a mother needs to support herself and one child without public assistance is several dollars more than $20 per hour. A higher percentage of NYC households survive on an insufficient income than in Mississippi and several other states.
A Faith-Rooted Response
The Micah Faith Table, a coalition of multi-faith leaders from across New York, is launching the Real Living Wage NYC Campaign to address these and other unjust economic issues. The goal of the campaign is to ensure that all workers in New York City receive at least $20 an hour–the wage required to meet basic needs without government subsidies. In other words, the aim is to transform the minimum wage in our city into a Real Living Wage.
Religious communities play a vital role in establishing economic justice for the whole society. Scriptures of every time, place, and faith cry out on behalf of the poor, seeking justice as well as mercy. In a critical sense, houses of faith form a unified moral body in our city, and aim to make that unity manifest by transforming a faith-based vision into reality. That is why the foundation for the Real Living Wage Campaign is being built in the interfaith religious community.
Join in Solidarity
As a secular progressive organization that builds coalitions with faith-based groups on behalf of economic justice, we encourage you to read more about the campaign here. Help make New York City a leader as a Real Living Wage City!
As anti-choice forces step up their attacks on a woman’s health and fundamental reproductive freedom, Greater NYC for Change is proud to join Planned Parenthood for a #PinkOut on Tuesday, September 29th.
#PinkOut Day is our chance to fight back against the relentless attacks on women’s health. It’s a chance to make your voice heard, and to stand up for the millions of women who receive necessary healthcare services from Planned Parenthood every year. For many women, Planned Parenthood provides the only healthcare they receive.
On Tuesday, September 29th, women and men nationwide will be standing together to say: We’re not backing down, not today, not ever.
Americans have watched the Black Lives Matter movement unfold in response to cases of police violence and unequal justice outcomes across the nation. As the movement gains prominence, some voices have questioned its motives, demanding that its purpose be made clear. Now a number of activists, working with the Center for Popular Democracy and President Obama’s DoJ Task Force on 21st Century Policing, have released a set of clear and detailed policy goals.
Their findings help us grasp the extent of the problem: out of 1,100 deaths by police hands in 2014, a large majority were of unarmed citizens. Many occurred during stops for minor offenses or routine traffic violations. Far too many were of people in need of mental health resources. While unnecessary police violence undermines all our civil liberties, this violence falls disproportionately on black Americans, who already bear the overwhelming, daily force of the historical racism embedded in our nation.
In addition to policy recommendations, Campaign Zero provides guidance on implementing change at the local, state, and federal level, while encouraging feedback and suggestions. The Campaign is also tracking presidential candidates to determine who’s listening.
We applaud the activists’ coordinated, data-driven approach, endorse the policy recommendations below, and commit to advocating for implementation here in New York City. You can, too. More detailed information can be found at Campaign Zero.
End “Broken Windows”
End Policing of Minor “Broken Windows” Offenses
End Profiling and “Stop-and-Frisk”
Establish Alternative Approaches to Mental Health Crises
Establish effective civilian oversight structures
Remove barriers to reporting police misconduct
Limit Use of Force
Establish standards and reporting of police use of deadly force
End traffic-related police killings and dangerous high-speed police chases
Revise and strengthen local police department use of force policies
Monitor how police use force and proactively hold officers accountable for excessive force
Independently Investigate & Prosecute
Lower the standard of proof for Department of Justice civil rights investigations of police officers
Use federal funds to encourage independent investigations and prosecutions
Establish a permanent Special Prosecutor’s Office at the State level for cases of police violence
Require independent investigations of all cases where police kill or seriously injure civilians
Increase the number of police officers who reflect the communities they serve
Use community feedback to inform police department policies and practices
The Right to Record Police
Invest in Rigorous and Sustained Training
Intentionally consider ‘unconscious’ or ‘implicit’ racial bias
End For-Profit Policing
End police department quotas for tickets and arrests
Limit fines and fees for low-income people
Prevent police from taking the money or property of innocent people
End the Federal Government’s 1033 Program Providing Military Weaponry to Local Police Departments
Establish Local Restrictions to Prevent Police Departments from Purchasing or Using Military Weaponry
*Policy solutions graphic courtesy of Campaign Zero
As we move toward the 2016 presidential election, we’re often asked to commit to candidates and engage in campaigns. We think it’s important to state our position:
Greater NYC for Change is an issue-based, grassroots organization focused on promoting everyday social and political change. While we have always supported candidates who share our commitment to progressive change, we do not issue formal endorsements, nor do we actively engage in primary elections. Individual members of our organization are, of course, able to support candidates of their choice, but such support should not be seen as representative of the organization as a whole.
We look forward to a robust debate of ideas that will sharpen positions and produce more effective national candidates in 2016.
Meanwhile, we’ll be working at city and state levels on the issues that matter to us:
The following letter was sent to the senior senator from New York. It represents the view of the Board of Directors that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement that will be voted on by the US Congress next month represents our best hope for a non-nuclear Iran and international security:
Dear Senator Schumer:
Greater New York City for Change, a volunteer advocacy organization with a reach of more than 7,000, asks you to reconsider your vote on the Iran agreement. We need to support our President’s efforts to keep Americans safe, and work within the international community. This agreement will help to do that.
It is not a perfect agreement, but what is the alternative? If the deal falls through, Iran could easily have more than 25,000 centrifuges and a nuclear weapon within one year. Who, then, will be safer? While the Iranian government is currently a sponsor of terrorism, how much more dangerous will it be as a terrorist sponsor with nuclear weapons? Yes, we are only guaranteed ten years during which Iran will not have a nuclear weapon, but that is ten more years than we will have without the agreement. That is why five former U.S. Ambassadors to Israel, numerous scientists, and countless international non-proliferation experts support the accord. They recognize that what we need is results, not posturing; diplomacy backed by verification, not saber-rattling.
As Nicholas Kristof wrote in his New York Times column on July 30th, the agreement is also about the possibility that Iran will turn away from its failed experiment with extremism. Who will be in charge in ten years? We could be dealing with entirely new leadership, endorsed by Iran’s Western-leaning, democracy-supporting youth, and a changed world. No one can predict the future accurately, but let’s give this deal and active engagement a try, rather than reject it and therefore encourage Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon that will further threaten both the region and the international community.
Please vote to give diplomacy a chance. Sincerely,