Citizen Action of New York – Knowing the Workers Who Make your Food


Fighting to raise the minimum wage; advocating for immigration reform ; challenging inequality. What do all of these have in common? They were all themes at “Justice Works 2014,” an annual conference convened by Citizen Action of New York.  Progressive minds from around New York State met in Albany to unravel some of the most pressing problems facing New Yorkers.  Kristina Andreotta , the New York City Campaign Manager for Citizen Action spoke with us about the purpose of “ Justice Works” and described how Citizen Action of New York hopes to address a range of issues at the state and local level.
Next we learn about a very sad paradox, restaurant workers who cannot afford a healthy meal. We speak with Raul Saksena , the Policy Director for Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC NY),  Diana Robinson, campaign and education coordinator for Food Chain Worker Alliance and Carolina Portillo, a waitress at a restaurant in Manhattan, to learn about how restaurant workers frequently are paid so poorly, they can’t afford decent food themselves.

Citizen Action of New York

Justice Works with Citizen Action of New YorkWe recently heard about an Albany conference called to address issues such as raising the minimum wage, income inequality and commonsense economics. Called “Justice Works, ” it was a two day conference organized by Citizen Action of New York. Progressive thinkers, policy makers and educators from around New York converged in Albany to address a wide range of issues. Among the participants was 1199 SEIU, 32 BJ, the New York State AFLCIO and various alternative labor organizations. Our guest, Kristina Andreotta, New York City Campaign Manager for Citizen Action of New York, told us about the importance of addressing these issues at the state level through progressive campaigns. Andreotta relates how” Justice Works” helped organizers learn from each other and develop comprehensive strategies to improve conditions in their own communities. Full disclaimer, Assistant Producer Christiaan Perez attended this conference and live tweeted some of the panels.

Food Insecurity in Restaurants

restaurant workerFrom a cheap fast food joint to a fine dining establishment in the center of Manhattan, many restaurant workers face the very real challenge of not having access to healthy meals, according to report titled “Food Insecurity of Restaurant Workers.” Our guests, Raul Saksena, Carolina Portillo and Diana Robinson all played a role in developing this report. Some 280 surveys were obtained to develop this report . Portillo and explains how notwithstanding her job in a Manhattan restaurant, she often has to make the difficult decision between eating healthy food or keeping roof over her head. Saksena and Robinson suggest policies that could ensure that workers need not be faced with the hard choices that impact the quality of life.

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