September 10, 2018
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Executive Chamber State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224
Re: Letter in support of One Fair Wage from New York Faith Leaders
Dear Governor Cuomo,
We applaud your proposal to examine raising the base wage paid to tipped workers to the regular minimum wage. We urge you to now implement the policy without further delay.
As faith leaders and consumers, it is with heavy hearts that we witness the majority of hard-working women and men in the restaurant, car wash and nail salon industries, laboring so hard but often without taking home enough in wages to support their families. No worker should have to depend on public assistance to make ends meet, as so many do.
We regularly meet people in our communities who struggle to make ends meet. For many, their hardship is rooted in the economic instability that results from the tipped wage system. Tips are supposed to make up for low wages, but it is clear that this rarely happens. Working hard still places these workers in hardship.
Only a small minority of workers benefit from the current two-tiered system, and that advantage correlates closely with those who already have privilege. The majority who lose are women, people of color and immigrants. The lesser minimum wage for tipped workers forces a Hobson’s choice upon women in particular, who must often accept sexual harassment to earn tips.
All tipped workers provide services, with care and professionalism, which New Yorkers rely on. These workers also deserve care, and protection from suffering and exploitation.
The fair treatment and compensation of workers is a common thread in many of our sacred texts:
“You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy.” (Deuteronomy 24:14)
“Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.” (Romans 4:4)
“Give just measure and weight, nor withhold from the people the things that are their due.” (Sūrat al-Aʻrāf 7:85)
The time is always ripe to do the right thing, and thankfully there is an opportunity at hand. Increasing wages for tipped workers to the regular minimum wage, with a gratuity on top, as an appreciation to the worker, is the right path.
May the divine inspire you to make the right decision for the tipped workers of New York State – making New York the first state on the East Coast to go to One Fair Wage. We the undersigned support you in this effort and urge you to move quickly.
Closing with prayers and blessings,
Rev. Dr. Anton DeWet, Minister, Old Steeple Community Church (UCC)
Rev. Lawrence Duncklee, Pastor, St. John The Evangelist Roman Catholic Church
Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Executive Director, Greater NY Labor-Religion Coalition
Rev. Mary Larson,United Church of Christ
Rev. Anthony Macfarlane, United Church of Christ
Rev. Jeff Mansfield, Interim Minister, Broadway United Church of Christ
Rev. Anand Sekar Manuel, Minister, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Sister Mary Beth Moore, Executive Director, Centro Corazon de Maria
Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper, Senior Minister, Judson Memorial Church
Rev. Lynn Sullivan, United Church of Christ
The Rev. Dr. Ann M. Van Cleef, United Church of Christ
Rev. Dr. Noel D. Vanek, Pastor,Community Church of the Pelhams, United Church of Christ
*In alphabetical order by last name