LONG ISLAND, New York: Long Island members of the Excluded Workers Fund Coalition demanded that Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature take immediate steps to expand funding for the EWF and adjust application regulations so they are flexible for those who were unable to apply due to lack of documentation.
Thousands of essential and excluded workers on Long Island were not able to benefit from the Excluded Workers Fund after the Department of Labor closed the date to submit the application on Friday, October 8 2021.
According to the Department of Labor, by Friday, October 8, 349,017 applications have submitted to the program, which provides relief to workers who were cut out of pandemic aid programs, and 121,056 were approved.
New data from the Fiscal Policy Institute, showed that applications for the fund in regions outside of New York City were still lagging behind. New York City is the only region to date that has a higher share of beneficiaries than its share of undocumented workers – the city has 73 percent of undocumented workers but 81 percent of the share of distributed funds. By contrast, workers in other regions of the state have received a
disproportionately lower share of the funds: For example: Long Island with 12 percent of undocumented workers, 10 percent of fund beneficiaries were assigned. In Long Island 38,083 applications were submitted and 13,637 were approved by the DOL.
At the press conference workers talked about the struggle they had applying for the EWF due to the short time given to apply and the difficulty they had to collect the documents needed to qualify. Other workers detailed how the funding received changed their lives, explaining that it has allowed them to finally pay down debts, pay rent, and leave abusive workplaces and domestic partners.
The workers were joined by community advocates who explained how cutting off access to the fund creates inequities across the state, underlining the hurdles that have made it harder for workers from Long Island to learn about and access the fund. Advocates will also explain why additional funding would be a boost for the state’s economy as a whole.
“Essential workers on Long Island have been left at an overwhelming disadvantage compared to those in the City. This is nothing more than a reflection of the isolation that Long Island’s demographics cause”, said Martha Maffei, Executive Director of SEPA Mujer, Inc. “The demand for assistance and help from the Excluded Workers Fund keeps our phones busy, people keep calling for help. We cannot ignore that it is a clear need and that we hope that the Governor and NY State Legislators will listen to these needs and prioritize our essential workers”.
“Discontinuing this fund creates imbalances across the state, making yet another obstacle for excluded workers,” said Legislator Sam Gonzalez, Suffolk County Legislator. “It is important for excluded workers to have access to resources they need to stay safe and financially afloat.”
“The Excluded Worker Fund has provided hundreds of thousands of essential and excluded workers with emergency financial relief across the state, but the repair needed is far from over. Far too many workers remain without assistance and we urge Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature to take immediate steps to expand funding for the fund and adjust application regulations so they are flexible for those who were unable to apply due to lack of documentation,” said Ani Halasz, Executive Director of Long Island Jobs with Justice.
“As a Coalition we have helped those in need to be included and not excluded, let us continue fighting for those who are still excluded”, said Centro Corazon de Maria.
“The Excluded Worker Fund was a hard-won commitment from New York State to finally remedy the inhuman exclusion of day laborers, domestic workers, and so many other immigrant workers from their rights to both pandemic relief and unemployment insurance. We call on Governor Hochul to follow through on that promise, fully fund
the EWF, and ensure that when New York accepts workers’ labor, it also respects their rights.” Nadia Marin-Molina, National Day Laborer Organizing Network
At the event, advocates also explained how cutting off access to the fund would create inequities across the state, underlining the hurdles that have made it harder for workers upstate and in rural areas of New York to learn about and access the fund and why additional funding would be a boost for the state’s economy as a whole.
The Excluded Workers Fund opened in August after a year-long organizing effort by excluded workers throughout the state. Excluded New Yorkers fought tooth and nail to be able to access economic relief that will allow them to get back on their feet after losing their incomes and unjustly being left out of federal and state government support during the pandemic.tice Center, NYIC, Freeport Worker Justice Center.
Essential and excluded workers, community members with SEPA Mujer Inc., Centro Corazón de María, Long Island Jobs with Justice, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), Rural Migrant Ministry, Workplace Project, HAFALI- Haitian American Families of Long Island, Empire Justice Center, Central American Refugee Center, NY Immigration Coalition (NYIC), Freeport Worker Justice Center, Youth and Adolescent Services EOC of Suffolk, Inc.