NYCOFI was founded in 2010 as a 501(c)(3) dedicated to providing public education, advocacy, research, and direct services for low and moderate income New Yorkers. Our first two years were spent developing a strong foundation and launching essential programs with our partner organizations, especially New York Communities for Change (NYCC).
Our third year was one full of transition, as we brought on Carlie Steen as the organization’s third executive director. Unfortunately, we struggled through the deteriorating health and eventual loss of Jon Kest, head of NYCC. Jon “organized” me to serve on the NYCOFI Board and he is greatly missed.
Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for decades. Without the burden that can come with other more religiously-connected holidays, I’ve seen it as an opportunity to gather with friends and family of choice to give thanks for the good things in life.
This November, though, I’m finding the concept of “giving thanks” a difficult one.
For those of us based in “suburban” Brooklyn, grocery stores are few and far between.
To reach my nearest grocery store, I cross a major highway, walk down two avenues, and over six streets. That’s not unusual in many parts of New York City, which is why places like Golden Farm in Kensington, Brooklyn, are so important.
By Mark Peters, NYCOFI Board Chair
Safety is a serious concern, as car wash worker José Garcia’s* story illustrates, with many employees struggling with dangerous working conditions that are not addressed by their employers. José Bernabe, an employee at Fine Fare Supermarket in East Flatbush, was responsible for cleaning recycling machines, which involved transferring crushed glass from the machine to larger containers. Mr. Bernabe breathed glass dust every day for many years, without ever being provided with protective equipment. “I have problems with my vision now,” he said, “and every time I (blow) my nose, blood” comes out.
Mr. Bernabe needs a Low Wage Worker Day of Action.
By Mark Peters, NYCOFI Board Chair
José Garcia* never moved fast enough for his boss, who was always threatening him if he didn’t hurry. One day, as he was getting towels out of the industrial dryer at the car wash where he works, José heard his boss telling him to hurry. As he rushed in response, his finger was crushed in the machine’s door. As it bled and throbbed, his boss called him a “baby” and told him to “stop being a girl.” When he called the next day to say he couldn’t work because his hand was too swollen to move, his boss continued calling him humiliating names and told him to take the whole week off. Without pay.
José needs a Low Wage Worker Day of Action.
The New York Times wrote about next week's Low Wage Worker Day of Action. You can read about it here.
More than 100,000 workers in New York are underpaid, underemployed, and exploited by their employers.
To address these issues, dozens of organizations are involved in campaigns across New York City, all with the goal of raising wages and living standards, and stopping cutbacks and wage theft for thousands of New Yorkers.
As my grandmother would say, it’s been a tough row to hoe for most Americans during this Great Recession. For low income New Yorkers, it’s been even more distressing as jobs that pay a living wage are hard to find and food prices are skyrocketing. For those with children, the promise of a quality public education is being broken by everything from the lack of available pre-kindergarten to a college-readiness rate of 25% of high school graduates—13% for Black and Latino/a students.