ALIGN’s 2024 Labor & Climate Agenda
January 8, 2024 – ALIGN (The Alliance for a Greater New York) brings together labor, climate, and community organizations for a more just, sustainable New York. Working at the intersection of economic and climate justice, ALIGN builds coalitions with those most impacted and uplifts worker and community voices.
In 2024, ALIGN and its coalitions are working to increase worker protections, fight for fair wages, and move New York toward a sustainable, clean economy.
New York State
1. Protect the minimum wage
Secure wage parity upstate and repeal the unemployment loophole
By 2026, New York’s minimum wage will be $17 in NYC, Long Island, and Westchester, and $16 in the rest of New York, with annual raises indexed to the cost of living thereafter. This wage disparity ignores that many upstate regions, such as the Hudson Valley, have experienced skyrocketing housing and living costs, and New York’s estimated living wage statewide is already more than $21. The new minimum wage law also includes a harmful “off-ramp” loophole that denies workers a raise in years of increased unemployment — undermining the state minimum wage by letting wages fall further behind the cost of living, hurting working families and eroding consumer demand.
Fair wages are good for business and for the economy, and New York must do right by working families and protect the minimum wage. We’re fighting to repeal off-ramp loopholes and establish wage parity upstate, so that no workers are left behind.
Learn more about the Raise Up NY coalition.
2. Keep warehouse workers safe on the job
New York’s warehouse industry is among the fastest-growing in New York, and the most dangerous for workers — warehouse workers are injured four times more than the average New York worker, and at Amazon facilities, 1 in 12 workers are injured on the job. But with little oversight, abusive employers can continue to put profit over people.
We’re fighting for $5 million in the New York State budget to implement and enforce the Warehouse Worker Injury Reduction Act (WWIRA), which would ensure warehouse employers protect workers first, requiring injury reduction plans to identify and minimize hazards and annual evaluations by certified safety experts known as ergonomists. Through better job design, safety standards, training, and improved on-site medical care, New York can keep workers safe on the job and make warehouse work sustainable.
3. Pass the People’s Climate Justice Budget
Secure at least $1 billion for climate resilience programs across the state
As the climate crisis worsens, New York communities from Buffalo to the Bronx are facing overlapping catastrophes, from fierce flooding and record-setting blizzards to toxic wildfire smog and health-harming air pollution. But our communities also have solutions.
The People’s Climate Justice Budget is a $1 billion spending plan developed by and for New Yorkers as a downpayment on the more than $10 billion a year the state estimates is necessary to address the crisis at scale. These funds would finance critical climate and environmental justice programs, strengthen labor standards and community benefits in the clean energy industry, and create a resilient climate future built by workers with good union jobs. Governor Hochul must tackle the climate crisis head-on by allocating at least $1 billion to the state’s Climate Action Fund in 2024 for urgent climate, transportation, housing, and energy programs — developed by communities, for communities.
4. Win the Climate, Jobs & Justice Package
Pass the NY HEAT Act, Climate Change Superfund Act, & Just Energy Transition Act
Governor Hochul and the State Legislature must act boldly on climate and environmental justice by investing in our communities this year, and for years to come. We’re calling on state leaders to pass three key Climate, Jobs, and Justice bills: the Home Energy Affordable Transition Act (NY HEAT, S2016A/A4592A), the Climate Change Superfund Act (S2129A/A3351A), and the Just Energy Transition Act (S2935C/A4866C). Passing these key climate acts will lead to cleaner energy, cheaper bills, make corporate polluters pay for the mess they’ve made, and help us transition New York’s most polluting fossil-fuel power plants into renewable energy hubs, creating green union jobs and improving air quality in frontline communities statewide.
Learn more about NY Renews and the Climate, Jobs & Justice package.
5. Support innovative climate solutions
Monitor and expand Thermal Energy Network project pilots across the state
Following the passage of the Utility Thermal Energy Network and Jobs Act (UTENJA) in 2022, ALIGN will continue its work with the Upgrade NY collaboration to support thermal energy network pilots. These pilots will help decarbonize New York’s dirtiest buildings and create family-sustaining, union jobs in the energy sector. In addition to monitoring the progress of pilot projects, we’ll support the development of thermal energy networks on SUNY campuses — projects that can deliver a just transition for energy workers, reduce our reliance on fossil fuel infrastructure, and benefit historically disadvantaged communities across the state.
New York City
6. Invest in Green, Healthy Schools for NYC
Allocate $2.7 billion/year to electrify and upgrade 500 public schools by 2030 and commit to make NYC a zero-emissions school district by 2040
The climate crisis and decades of disinvestment are wreaking havoc on NYC public schools — among the worst climate polluters in the city, relying on dirty fossil fuels to power and heat classrooms.
NYC 3K-12 students, teachers, parents, and school staff deserve safe and healthy workplaces, and Climate Works for All is calling on Mayor Adams to fund Green, Healthy Schools so all students can breathe clean air and attend school safely — regardless of zip code. We’re fighting for $2.7 billion a year to electrify and upgrade air quality and ventilation for 500 public school buildings by 2030, prioritizing schools in environmental justice communities, and to commit NYC’s Department of Education to becoming a zero emissions school district by 2040. This investment can help the City meet the mandates of Local Law 97, create green union jobs, and give students, teachers, and school staff the safe and healthy workplaces they deserve.
7. Protect workers and communities vulnerable to truck pollution and corporate greed
Pass Int 1054-2023 to regulate last-mile facilities and keep our streets, workers, and environmental justice communities safe
The e-commerce boom of the last decade resulted in an unprecedented number of last-mile distribution centers — facilities that deliver goods to their final destination — cropping up in neighborhoods around NYC, many in lower-income communities of color already bearing the brunt of truck pollution and the climate crisis. As New Yorkers rely more and more on delivery for items purchased online, the City must address the environmental justice, street safety, and workers’ rights issues raised by the proliferation of last-mile distribution centers.
Int 1054-2023 will require last-mile facilities to undergo a licensing process that considers the facility’s impact on a neighborhood, establishes mechanisms to reduce emissions, requires employee classification and minimum standards for wages and benefits, and ensures distribution centers are sited fairly across the city rather than overburdening specific neighborhoods.
Learn more about Int 1054-2023.
ALIGN (Alliance for a Greater New York) is a longstanding alliance of labor and community organizations united for a just and sustainable New York. ALIGN works at the intersection of economy, environment, and equity to make change and build movement. Our model addresses the root causes of economic injustice by forging strategic coalitions, shaping the public debate through strategic communications, and developing policy solutions that make an impact.