#15andFunding Coalition: We Will Not Be Used As A Scapegoat

A coalition of more than 80 organizations across New York State representing human services, and Medicaid-funded nonprofit workers are taking on minimum wage opponents.

The coalition, #15andFunding, are advocating for a statewide $15 per hour minimum wage for all workers. Additionally, they are calling for funding that will support this increase for essential nonprofit workers through government contracts and Medicaid reimbursements.


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Statement from the #15andFunding Coalition

Opponents of increasing the minimum wage are attempting to use nonprofits as a scapegoat for maintaining the status quo of low wages.  The #15andFunding Campaign, co-led by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, the Human Services Council and the Fiscal Policy Institute, and supported by more than 80 nonprofit organizations across the state refute this claim: Nonprofit providers support the minimum wage increase for both their workers and for the communities they serve.  We maintain, however, that government funds to pay the increase in wages for government funded contracts and Medicaid reimbursements are essential to ensure that nonprofits can recruit and retain quality staff.  An increased wage means an improved quality of life with the ability to meet basic needs for over 500,000 human services and Medicaid-funded workers.


Quotes from Individual Coalition Members:

“Nonprofits support an increase to the minimum wage because it is the right policy for NY. Government is responsible for the wage levels at nonprofit human service agencies and will need to adjust rates for this policy to be successful but that does not diminish our strong collective desire to see this law passed.”-Allison Sesso, Executive Director, Human Services Council

“Nonprofit workers provide a vast range of essential public services caring for people who rely on their skills, commitment and compassion. These workers, their families, and the people they serve deserve a $15 minimum wage, and expect the state to provide the funding to ensure a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”-James Parrott, Deputy Director and Chief Economist, Fiscal Policy Institute

“Despite a growing statewide coalition of human services and Medicaid-funded nonprofits actively supporting a minimum wage increase to $15 for all New Yorkers, opponents of the increased wage are shamefully using the nonprofit sector to justify a continuation of stagnant wages. Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour with funding for the increased wage for workers employed by nonprofits performing government functions are both desired goals of the nonprofit human services and Medicaid-funded services sector.  These nonprofit workers are an extension of the New York State government’s workforce, and they perform critical roles in our economy and in the communities they serve.”-Jennifer Jones Austin, Executive Director and CEO, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies

“$15 minimum wage strengthens our nonprofits. Our human service workers give so much. They deserve a living wage.”-Sultana Ocasio, Executive Director, Muslim Women’s Institute for Research and Development

“Unity House of Troy, Inc. supports an increase in the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour by 2021.  We fully expect that NYS government will increase funding commensurately for not for profits receiving funding under contracts with the State.” –Chris Burke, CEO, Unity House of Troy, Inc.

“A minimum wage increase is necessary for seniors and people with disabilities to be able to recruit and keep high quality workers so that they live fulfilling lives in their homes. These workers perform physically demanding work that requires knowledge of skilled services that typically only a nurse can perform. Yet because of record low reimbursements from the State, they are often making wages that force them to decide between food for their children or keeping the electricity on. Governor Cuomo and the Legislature need to stop playing politics with people’s lives and pass and fund a minimum wage increase. Because for workers deciding between rent and food, for seniors and disabled trying desperately to stay out of a nursing home, politics don’t matter, only results,” –Bryan O’Malley, Executive Director, Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Association of New York State

“Our staff devote their careers to solving some of society’s greatest challenges.  They often risk their safety to go where they are needed most and make personal sacrifices in order to invest in the futures of New York’s kids and families.  We shouldn’t ask them to sacrifice being able to put food on the table and a roof over their family’s heads.  The $15 minimum wage is the right thing to do for nonprofit workers and for those they serve.  Let it also be clear that it must be fully funded so that services are not cut to make it happen.” – Jess Dannhauser, President and CEO, Graham Windham

“The $15 minimum wage is vital to the well-being, economic opportunity, and self-sufficiency of all New Yorkers and their families. Just as vital is appropriate, sustained funding in the state budget to allow not-for profit workers, many of whom currently earn well below this proposed new minimum, to partake in this opportunity and to prevent community-based organizations from being subjected to potentially crippling unfunded mandates. Riis Settlement strongly supports both a $15 minimum wage and the necessary increase in resources to help non-profits compete for the most dedicated workers.” – Christopher Hanway, Executive Director, Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement

“People who care for the most vulnerable in our society – our children, our elderly parents, the sick – deserve to earn enough to support their families.  Nonprofit Westchester’s 141 member organizations support a funded increase to the minimum wage so that nonprofit employees can help those in need without becoming someone in need.  Nonprofit employees provide bridges to opportunity—they and the people they serve need the opportunity provided by a living wage.” –Joanna Straub, Executive Director, Nonprofit Westchester

“This is not just a matter of fairness to people who work full time and deserve a living wage; this is about keeping quality workers in important jobs so that essential services are maintained.  Poor wages drive good people away which costs more in the long run because of added recruiting and training costs as well as the cost of having systems run inefficiently.” –Jim Matison, Executive Director, Brooklyn Kindergarten Society

“MercyFirst works with so many parents on Long Island who do their best to care for their children but are just unable to keep up with paying bills because of such low salaries. Many of our youth who try to live on their own face this same dilemma.  Increasing the minimum wage is absolutely needed if we expect families to remain together and have any chance of making for a better life for their children who depend on them.” –Gerard McCaffery, President/CEO, MercyFirst

“Urban Pathways, a 40-year old social service and supportive housing nonprofit serving homeless New Yorkers, unequivocally supports a $15 minimum wage in New York State. A State funded $15 minimum wage is a critically needed investment in the 84 Urban Pathways human services employees who currently earn less. Many of these dedicated employees, who despite working to provide homeless New Yorkers, essential services and permanent housing, are relegated to live in poverty, struggling to pay their rising rent and meet the basic needs of their families. There is also a direct correlation between low staff salaries and high staff turnover, so an investment in our workforce is also an investment in the over 1,000 homeless New Yorkers we serve. Too often, a homeless adult client must restart their service plan and redevelop a relationship, which a higher wage can preclude.” – Frederick Shack LMSW, CEO, Urban Pathways