Upstate / WNY

A group of Western NY 1199ers traveled to the NYS Capitol in Albany on Feb. 3 to testify before the State Legislature’s Budget Committee on Workforce Development. While they were there, they also had conversations with state legislators about the need to raise the statewide minimum wage to $15.

1199SEIU nursing home workers joined others in the Upstate Fight for $15 Coalition, including fast food, retail and other low-wage workers. Most traveled more than 5 hours in each direction on a bus and then spent the day talking with legislators and local reporters about the need for a living wage and the dramatic impact it would have on their families and their roles as caregivers.

“I’m afraid for the future of my residents. Why would someone choose to do this worry and carry such a heavy responsibility for such low pay? Even with the desire, people are forced to make the decision between their residents and their families,” said Tracy Hatch, a CNA at Absolut Care and Rehab in Houghton, NY. “If my co-workers were earning $15 an hour they wouldn’t have to make that choice.”

Due to a scheduling error, workers weren’t able to testify in person before the Committee, but their written stories were submitted to legislators and their voices were heard loud and clear at the Capitol and in the media.

Daisy Gascon, a CNA at Absolut Care and Rehab in Houghton, NY, was among those scheduled to testify at the committee hearings. She was disappointed, but undeterred and vowed to keep up the fight for a living wage – and a better life for her family.

"Working over 60 hours a week, we hardly ever see our kids,” Gascon said, "We rely on the older ones to raise the younger ones. $15 would mean that we would get to spend some much needed family time together. And maybe even get to take a vacation.”

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