Desi activists in New York step-up action for “excluded” workers

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Rally organized by Desis Rising Up and Moving, DRUM, March 8, 2022. Photo: courtesy DRUM

The non-profit community organization, Desis Rising Up and Moving, DRUM, urged New Yorkers to join its demand to ‘Fund Excluded Workers’ as it stepped up its activism in their support.

Hundreds of members and supporters of DRUM staged a march across the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2022, one of several events planned by the organization, including a 150 mile ‘March to Albany’.

“The fight to Fund Excluded Workers has been heating up this month! And we need your support,” the organization said in a mailing sent out.

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“We’re calling on our members, allies and supporters of excluded workers to take action along with us to raise pressure to pass Excluded No More and add $3 billion to the Excluded Workers Fund!” it urged.

“This International Working Women’s Month, how will New York state care for domestic workers, restaurant workers, home health aids, retail workers, grandmothers, mothers, aunts, daughters, sisters, wives?” DRUM demanded, including women and immigrant communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

It urged supporters to call the Governor and other state and local elected leaders to pressure them in support of State Senate bill 8165 and Assembly bill 9037. This March 15, it planned a rally in front of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office in Midtown Manhattan.

According to DRUM, working class undocumented and immigrant workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic were left out of the support given by New York State.

“The pandemic has shown us time and again that when a crisis hits, it’s our communities who fall through the gaps in the social safety net,” the organization said.

However, last year, excluded workers took their demands to the state and won the historic $2.1 billion Fund for Excluded Workers, DRUM said

“That same fund, which ran out in only 9 weeks, must be replenished—175,000 workers still remain excluded,” the organization estimates, and lays down a goal of another $3 billion, with the aim of finding a more permanent solution from the state to establish an Excluded Worker Unemployment Program.

DRUM contends New York State has a multi-billion dollar surplus.

As Governor Hochul and state legislators debate which gap to fill, DRUM is demanding they fill every gap in the social safety net to include undocumented workers who cannot access unemployment, those barred from health care, and those facing rising rents and “looming” evictions.

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