Assemblymember Sarahana Shrestha Calls to Increase the Minimum Wage and Provide Unemployment Coverage to Excluded Workers

‘Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children.’ — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Kingston, NY: Assemblymember Sarahana Shrestha (D-Esopus) spoke in Kingston alongside Hudson Valley advocates to call for raising the upstate minimum wage to $20 by 2026, and for it to catch up with the statewide minimum wage thereafter. The legislation to do so would restore New York’s minimum wage to keep up with inflation and rises in worker productivity, and reduce poverty without a reduction in employment levels, similar to what we saw at a historic level in the years since we passed the $15 minimum wage in 2016.

With rising prices, the value of New York’s $15 minimum wage has already fallen by 15% and will fall by more than 30% by 2026. A living wage for a single parent with one child is estimated to be closer to $40/hour in Ulster and Dutchess counties. 

AM Shrestha is also calling for the Unemployment Bridge Program to provide unemployment coverage to workers who are otherwise excluded due to immigration status or line of work, impacting the state’s most vulnerable workers, especially immigrant workers and workers of color who keep our state running. Last year, small reforms in taxation law for corporate profits and the wealthiest helped to temporarily fund $2.1b for the Excluded Workers Fund, and this program would provide permanent coverage to qualifying workers.

“On its own, New York’s $1.5 trillion GDP makes it the 10th largest economy in the world, bigger than Canada, Russia, and South Korea”, Shrestha said, “And yet, New York also ranks as the number one state in the country for the biggest gap between the rich and the poor. We cannot remedy this inequality without creating a permanent base level income security for our most underpaid and exploited workers.”