My name is Anne Klaeysen, and I am Leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, a congregation that has long fought for social and economic justice. I am here today to cry out on behalf of workers across this city for a living wage. Our founder, Felix Adler, back in 1880, proposed a “maximum,” not a “minimum” wage to remedy the gross disparity between the haves and the have-nots. Tragically, we face an economy today not unlike that in 1880.
Fast food companies are some of the wealthiest corporations in America, yet many fast food workers are forced to rely on public assistance to keep the roof over their families’ heads and food on the table. I have broken bread with workers who walk to their jobs because they cannot afford public transportation: an hour and more on foot to a job that pays $7.25 an hour and perpetuates harsh conditions.
It is unethical for giant fast food multinational corporations to make billions while their employees are dependent on food stamps and Medicaid. The workers know this, and they are standing up to do something about it. I stand with them, and so should every New Yorker. We have always pulled together in times of crisis, and this time is no different.
Our neighbors need us! Together we can make a difference in their lives and our communities. Stand together today and every day for what is right and just, not just for the few, but for every one of us.
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NOTE: I read this statement at a press conference on the steps of City Hall, and it was entered into the record at the City Council hearing.