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You are invited to breakfast: This breakfast meeting is open to the media. It is a close-up opportunity to get beyond the inside politics at the state Capitol and get to know the stories of Western NY residents who earn less than $15/hr., and the community members who support them. The workers will discuss what they do, how they manage to get by and what raising the wage means to them.

When: Tuesday, March 29 9:00 a.m.-10 a.m.

Where: Doris Jones Family Resource Center

3001 9th Street, Niagara Falls

Who: Rev. Tim Brown, Mayor Paul Dyster; Niagara Falls City Council Chairman, Andrew Touma; Niagara Falls City Council Member Charles Walker; Pastor Raymond Allen; Niagara County Legislator Owen Steed; Shirley Hamilton, President, NAACP Niagara Falls chapter; Niagara Falls City Council Member Ezra Scott; Renae Kimball, former Niagara County legislator and prominent community leader; Western NY low wage workers and more …

The clock is ticking with only a few days until April 1, the date that the NYS Legislature is constitutionally required to pass a budget for the new state fiscal year. In light of the impending vote on increasing the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, these Niagara County leaders are showing their support for the low-wage workers who will be helped when the minimum wage is raised.

At the breakfast, leaders will explain why raising the wage is important to their respective communities. Workers will describe working full-time, some having more than one job and others still having to rely on government assistance such as food stamps to feed their children. 95% of workers who make less than $15 are 20 years or older, 66% work full-time and 33% have children.

Mayor Paul Dyster: “Almost half of the people of the City of Niagara Falls earn wages under or just above the federal poverty level. People often stereotype low wage workers as teenagers trying to earn some extra pizza money; statistics show that this is the exception, not the rule. Low wage workers are overwhelming over the age of 20, have an average age of 35 and nearly 60% are woman. These are our mothers, sisters, and daughters struggling to make ends meet. These depressed wage levels make it difficult for these workers and their families to purchase automobiles and pay market rate rents, let alone purchase a home for themselves.

Raising the minimum wage isn’t just the right thing to do morally; it’s the right thing to do for the economy since it would increase the purchasing power of a major group of working class consumers.”

Niagara Falls City Council Member Charles Walker: "Niagara Falls is one of the poorest cities of it's size in the entire USA. Our residents need a raise! The Governor is right to push for a minimum $15 an hour across the board. This plan had a lot of support here in Niagara Falls."

Governor Cuomo’s proposal to increase the minimum wage to $15 will raise up more than 3 million working New Yorkers, including over 188,000 in Western New York, boost the state economy, address inequality and help advance the American Dream of rewarding hard work with fair pay.

Breakfast attendees will be signing this letter of support of below.

To the Editor:

This week the New York State Legislature will have the opportunity to lift out of poverty over 3 million working families in New York State, including over 188,000 in Western New York, changing their lives forever. We, the undersigned represent labor and community leaders, clergy, and workers in Niagara County who stand in strong support of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. We believe that hard working healthcare workers, childcare workers, farm workers, security guards and others should be able to care for their families without depending on public assistance.

Low-wage workers keep our economies running. Sherry is a housekeeper at a nursing home. After 7 years of hard work she makes only $9.72 a hour, not nearly enough to support her family today, much less save for tomorrow. She works hard and the work she does is important and valuable both to the residents she cares for and the families that loves them. We believe that Sherry--and all people that work hard deserve fair pay.

We are not alone. The fact is, New Yorkers overwhelmingly support an increased minimum wage, and almost 60 percent support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour statewide. The Governor’s proposal is phased-in to give employers time to prepare, and the minimum wage wouldn’t reach $15 in Niagara County until July 2021. This plan would put wages back on track to where they would have been if the minimum wage had kept up with inflation for the last 45 years.

With a $15 wage, millions of low-wage, full-time workers would finally be able to spend more of their income in beloved local businesses, pumping billions of dollars back into the economy. The economy is rebounding, but working families are still left trying to make ends meet. Raising the minimum wage to $15 will help close this growing inequality gap.

It's time to lift up New York State's lowest paid workers out of poverty and build stronger communities across the state. We urge the legislature to pass the $15 minimum wage this week without hesitation.


The NY Fight For $15 Coalition is comprised of over 100 community organizations, faith groups and unions that are determined to pass the $15 statewide minimum wage to raise working families and boost the economy. More info at

199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in America. We represent over 400,000 nurses and caregivers throughout Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Florida. Our mission is to achieve quality care and good jobs for all.

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