Progressive Caucus Marches for Climate Action

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The Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council participated in the People’s Climate March on Sunday, September 21, 2014. Council members joined a broad coalition of environmental, labor and community groups demanding world leaders take a proactive stance on environmental justice during the United Nation’s Climate Summit, Tuesday, September 23, 2014.

This mobilization by thousands of advocates and organizations around the world demonstrates the need for cross-sector collaboration to minimize the impact of global warming. Members marched in solidarity with them to pursue an international response to the detrimental health and economic effects all communities face under extreme weather conditions.

New York City Progressives hope to advance a multi-tiered approach to create a healthier and more sustainable environment. Members look forward to being allies in the fight to avoid climate catastrophe. The People’s Climate March provides a platform to galvanize around this universal experience that is creating critical consequences at home and abroad.


“The People’s Climate March provides a unique opportunity to address long standing issues surrounding climate change, public health, energy dependence, and most importantly, social justice,” said Caucus Co-Chair and Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, Council Member Donovan Richards. “Business as usual, in terms of irresponsible energy usage and development, will only continue to cause further detriment to our environment and negatively impact those most vulnerable. Today’s march marks the culmination of years of work by environmental advocates, labor unions, faith leaders, and concerned citizens dedicated to spurring global action and combating climate change. I anticipate great changes not only for New York City, but also for the wider international community. Together, we can and will change the world!”

“Taking action on climate change should not just be a priority for progressives; it should be a priority for everyone.  On Sunday, the Progressive Caucus is proud to march with the rest of the City Council and people from all over New York City, the country, and the world to demand that climate change be addressed,” said Caucus Co-Chair Antonio Reynoso. “The Caucus has a particular interest in ensuring that underrepresented communities are heard in the conversation around sustainability, and we hope that ALL New Yorkers will join us in the streets on Sunday.  To change everything, we need everyone!”

“I’m proud to walk in the People’s Climate March and continue the deeply important effort to combat the threat of climate change in our city and across the world,” said Council Member Margaret Chin, Treasurer of the Caucus. “We simply can’t wait when it comes to protecting the planet that future generations will inherit — we must act now, and we must stand united for policies that put our environment first.”

“Superstorm Sandy, a sign of things to come from climate change, hit New York City two years ago, and we are still rebuilding our City,” said Vice-Chair for Policy, Council Member Ben Kallos. “We join together in the peoples’ climate march, steps from the United Nations, so our world leaders will take the necessary action to fight climate change.”

Council Member Brad Lander said, “If we don’t want to tell our kids and grandkids that we utterly failed them — when the evidence was clear — then we must take bold action now. On the eve of the People’s Climate March and the UN Climate Summit, the New York City Council is helping to lead the way. By setting an ambitious goal, retrofitting our buildings to save energy, committing to dramatically reduce NYC’s own use of fossil fuels, cleaning up our air, and promoting mass transit, we’ll be able to approach future generations with a clear conscience and a more sustainable planet.”

“The world needs action on climate and we need it now,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “The People’s Climate March will allow New York City to show the world how crucial it is that we act on climate change and I am proud to join with my Progressive Caucus colleagues in marching this Sunday.“

“As the father of two daughters, climate change is an incredibly personal issue. We must protect our natural resources so that my little girls, and children everywhere, can grow and raise their own children in a stable, sustainable world.” Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez said, “Everything begins with education; we need to start educating our children from an early age about climate change in order to have them grow aware of their impact on our environment. Today we march to show not only the UN and Congress, but also governments and citizens worldwide that Climate Change is a major issue that we need to address.“

“New Yorkers experience the growing effects of climate change daily,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “This weekend, thousands will take to the streets to sound the alarm on the negative impacts of‎ continued inaction. Climate change undermines our safety, security and economy and disproportionately harms low-income communities. The Peoples Climate March will serve as a call to action for the world.”

“The People’s Climate March is an opportunity to highlight a real problem for communities like ours – both in urban America and across communities of color – that have been historically impacted by environmental injustices. These include inequitable waste disposal policies and the use of certain fuels which have negatively impacted countless families, but that we are just now beginning to recognize,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “This is time to focus on working with our partners in the environmental community to improve the lives of all New Yorkers.”

“As a councilmember representing a waterfront district, and as Chair of the Committee on Waterfronts, issues of climate change and its impact on the city are of the highest priority for me. As we learned from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, for which we were woefully unprepared – with tragic consequences – we must take all necessary steps to prepare for the impact that climate changes is having on our city,” said Councilwoman Debi Rose (49th District/SI). “We have a moral and practical imperative to do everything we can to reduce climate change and save our precious environment.  As an elected official, I have been and pledge to continue to do all that I can to address climate change for the continued safety and success of our great city.

The Progressive Caucus is committed to confronting climate change by prioritizing affordable transit, greener buildings and livable streets.

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Progressive Caucus to Make Employer Credit Check Ban Next Big Push

Councilman Antonio Reynoso, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus.  (Photo: William Alatriste/NYC Council)

A bill to ban employers from running personal credit checks on job applicants will get a boost from the City Council’s Progressive Caucus, which intends to make the legislation its next priority for passage.

The bill was introduced in April and has also been considered, but not passed, by previous councils — but the 19-member caucus told the Observer today they were putting their weight behind it ahead of a hearing on the bill this Friday.

“A person’s character and work performance is not reflected in their credit history. If my own credit report had been taken into account I would not have had the opportunities I have been afforded in civil service,” Councilman Antonio Reynoso, a co-chair of the caucus, said in a statement. “I am grateful to have been evaluated on more substantial measures like experience and leadership in my community. All potential employees deserve this benefit.”

Councilman Donovan Richards, his fellow co-chair, agreed, saying a credit history is no indication of an ability to work.

“Ending employer led credit checks of applicants will aid millions of people seeking to access employment and stem the harm done by credit based prejudice,” Mr. Richards said.

Members of the caucus plan to hand out literature and hold a press conference Friday morning before the bill’s hearing in the Civil Rights Committee.

In statements, a slew of other members of the large caucus argued that there’s no correlation between job performance and credit scores, and that even if there were, credit reports are often riddled with errors.

New York City would not be the first locality to ban the use of credit checks in hiring; several states have done so already, and the move is being considered in others. It’s also not the first time New York City has considered banning credit checks in employment — previous legislation introduced in prior councils stalled.

The Progressive Caucus, which doubled in size this year, has played a strong role in the council this session — including in the selection of Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is a member of the caucus. Her office said she would be reviewing the legislation. The caucus has also backed the expansion of paid sick leave, and been a strong advocate of the growing participatory budgeting trend, in which voters select which projects a council member funds.

The singling out of the credit check bills comes as observers are eyeing what the Council will take on as the summer, when few hearings or meetings are held, comes to an end…


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Progressive Caucus Champions Strong Legislation to Stop Employment Credit Checks

For Immediate Release: September 10, 2014

NEW YORK, NY — The Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council is rallying around a ban on personal credit checks by all employers, employment agencies and licensing agencies. Caucus members have unanimously co-sponsored Intro. 216 in an effort to end this discriminatory practice that bars qualified applicants from economic opportunities.

We look forward to advocating for the Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act (Intro. 216) during the Council’s Committee on Civil Rights hearing September 12th, 2014 and in the near future.

“A person’s character and work performance is not reflected in their credit history. If my own credit report had been taken into account I would not have had the opportunities I have been afforded in civil service,” said Co-Chair, Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “I am grateful to have been evaluated on more substantial measures like experience and leadership in my community. All potential employees deserve this benefit.”

“Credit history is no indication of a person’s ability to work,” said Co-Chair, Council Member Donovan Richards. “Ending employer led credit checks of applicants will aid millions of people seeking to access employment and stem the harm done by credit based prejudice. As a co-sponsor of this bill, I am proud to fight to eliminate the discriminatory use of credit checks by employers.”

“Employers should not deny people jobs based on their credit history,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “Whether from catastrophic medical expenses, death of a spouse, or predatory lending, many New Yorkers have poor credit through little or no fault of their own.  Recent graduates with spiraling student debt need an equal chance to get a job, if they are ever going to pay it off.  This is a pervasive, deeply discriminatory practice and this bill is a simple, effective step forward for fairness and for common sense.”

Said Councilwoman Debi Rose (49th District/SI): “The practice of using credit checks as part of the employment application process is pernicious – it often prevents people from disadvantaged backgrounds, who are more likely to have a bad credit rating, from getting a job, and it impacts college and professional school graduates who are coming out of school with unprecedented debt levels, as well as people with medical debt. The bottom line is that this practice is keeping people who want to work and who can work from working, for no justifiable reason.”

“A loaf of bread for ones family or paying a bill to keep ones credit score intact to one day get a better paying job is an unfair choice faced by many New Yorkers without protection from unnecessary employment credit checks,” said Vice-Chair for Policy, Council Member Ben Kallos an attorney. “Discrimination in hiring must end, especially when it is based on arbitrary numbers from credit reporting bureaus that rarely agree and refuse to provide transparency around how they assign that number, leaving millions of Americans without a fair process.  No arbitrary number like a credit score should rob anyone of their opportunity to pursue their dreams.”

“Credit reports are riddled with errors, and credit agencies themselves admit they rarely predict a person’s job performance,” said Vice- Chair for Budget Advocacy, Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “Let’s get rid of this antiquated practice and give all job seekers a fair chance.”

“Employment credit checks prevent too many qualified, hardworking New Yorkers from getting the jobs they so desperately need,” said Treasurer, Council Member Margaret Chin. “That’s why we need to act now to remove this unfair and discriminatory practice from the hiring and firing process. New Yorkers know that when adversity strikes and a person’s credit is damaged — through situations like medical debt or a previous job layoff — that should never stop them from being able to secure a new job and get back on their feet. That fundamental fairness and equality of opportunity is what we’re fighting for with this legislation.”

“Your credit score is not a good measure of whether you are qualified for a job or not,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “On September 12, the City Council Civil Rights Committee will hear legislation that prohibits the use of credit checks during the hiring process. This is an issue that affects many of my constituents and I am proud to be a sponsor of a strong bill that doesn’t allow any loopholes. Using credit scores to determine job eligibility is arbitrary and a form of discrimination. Your personal finances are not your employer’s business.”

“For far too long, many New Yorkers have lost or been denied jobs because of the unfair and inaccurate practice of employment credit screenings,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras. “As Chair of the Committee on Finance, I proudly support the Stop Credit Discrimination Act because it will help more people to have access to jobs and an income, which is the cornerstone of our tax base.  At a time when unemployment is still a problem in this City, we need to change the draconian policy of credit screening employees and focus on getting people back to work.”

“I join the Progressive Caucus in speaking in a single voice in support of the Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act which would prohibit discrimination based on one’s consumer credit history,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “No correlation exists between an individual’s credit score and their job performance and the continued use of this practice which bars qualified applicants from accessing economic opportunities and achieving financial stability. Int. 216 would put an end to this discriminatory screening indicator and I am proud to be a cosponsor.”

“Credit history screenings for employment are unfair, unnecessary, and have no place in New York City. A person’s credit history should in no way determine whether they are suitable for employment and with this legislation we have an opportunity to make them a thing of the past. I am proud to join this coalition in pursuit of fairness for all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.

Council Member Mark Levine said: “Working-class New Yorkers should be hired based on whether they can do the job, not because a frequently mistake-ridden report says whether or not they pay their bills on time. An unforeseen illness or a layoff due to changing economics too often wreak havoc on a reliable employee’s credit history. Required credit checks unfairly punish these individuals when we should instead be trying to help them back into the labor force. We must unequivocally ban this harmful practice and not allow any loopholes to be added before it passes.”

“I am proud to support this sound piece of legislation that would ban the use of an employee’s credit standing as a discriminatory tool. In a competitive job market such as ours, we must ensure that every applicant is thoroughly considered for employment based on their credentials, and their potential contributions, and not on a perceived—and often misguided—assumption of financial irresponsibility. I commend my colleagues for addressing this pressing question of discrimination, and congratulate the advocates who worked on moving this protection toward legislative action. I look forward to New York City’s action against all forms of discrimination against any group of people,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

“The practice of running a credit check on job applicants disproportionally affects our community in Southeast Queens. There has been no tangible evidence to prove that those with poor credit are inferior employees. Yet credit checks only serve to punish motivated job seekers and persecute them for their private finances,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “Rather than accept this discrimination, which occurs primarily in communities of color, we should work to ensure that all those in the workforce and those looking to make their way into the workforce have an equal opportunity in the hiring process.”

“Right now great quality workers applying for much needed jobs are being turned away because of credit reports that might not even be accurate. I’m here today to tell members of my community about this injustice and have them join me in advocating for the end of this practice that disproportionately effects people of color,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.

“Credit scores have no bearing on job performance, disparately impact communities of color, and create needless barriers to employment for otherwise qualified candidates.  I fully support the Stop Credit in Employment Discrimination Act and will work with my colleagues to champion its advancement through the City Council.” Said Bronx Council Member Ritchie Torres. “Employers and job seekers will both benefit from the elimination of this discriminatory and oftentimes inaccurate practice.”

“A person’s value and their capacity to be hired and do a job well should not be judged by their credit history,” said New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “Int. 261 will ensure that those who are seeking employment will receive the fair consideration that they deserve.”

“It’s time New York City gives all job applicants an equal shot at employment, which is why we must ban the use of consumer credit checks from the hiring process,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Deputy Leader and Chair of the Council’s Housing and Buildings Committee. “Having poor credit history should not prevent someone from being able to put food on the table or pay their rent. It is time we end this discriminatory practice to ensure all New Yorkers can receive gainful employment despite their credit score, which often has nothing to do with a person’s work ethic. I applaud Council Member Brad Lander for his leadership on this initiative and proudly support this bill.”

The Progressive Caucus is committed to economic policy that nurtures a diverse workforce and provides affirmative opportunities to advance New Yorkers.

Founded in 2010, the Caucus is dedicated to establishing a more just and equal New York City, combating all forms of discrimination, and advancing public policies that offer genuine opportunity to all New Yorkers, especially those who have been left out of our society’s prosperity.

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Council’s Progressive Caucus hires new coordinator

Capitol NY

By Gloria Pazmino | Aug. 20, 2014

The City Council’s Progressive Caucus has hired Alana Cantillo as its new coordinator.

In her new role, Cantillo will be a central figure in the caucus’ push for new legislation and the shaping of its updated progressive agenda.

Cantillo is a former public school teacher who spent three years working at a school in Washington Heights. She is a graduate of Rutgers University and has a master’s degree from the City College of New York.

“I’ll be coordinating a lot of the members’ policy priorities. There will be opportunities for collaboration, team building and partnering on different issues,” Cantillo told Capital in an interview.

Cantillo said she hopes to help ensure that “people know the Progressive Caucus is active, engaged and seen as an important resource.”

Drawing on her experience as a public school teacher, Cantillo said, she will be able to use what she learned while navigating multiple city agencies and trying to help parents and students as a tool to craft policy and legislation.

“They [the caucus] have a diverse set of members and  dynamic people who want to reinvent the legislative process through something such as participatory budgeting, but also with engagement and involvement with communities,” Cantillo said, adding that her first challenge would be to look at all the legislative priorities of each of the caucus’ 18 members.

Most recently, Cantillo was a fellow in public affairs at the Coro New York Leadership Center. She takes over for Mary Tek, who is now working as innovation projects coordinator in the council’s policy and innovation division.

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Announcing Our Membership for the 2014-2017 Term

The Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council is proud to announce our membership for the 2014-2017 term today. The membership of the Caucus has nearly doubled since last term, now including nineteen members from all five boroughs. The goal of the Progressive Caucus is to help advance policies that will create a more just and equal city for all New Yorkers.

The membership list for the 2014-2017 term is as follows:

  • Council Member Margaret Chin (District 1, Manhattan)
  • Council Member Daniel Dromm (District 25, Queens)
  • Council Member Julissa Ferreras (District 21, Queens)
  • Council Member Corey Johnson (District 3, Manhattan)
  • Council Member Ben Kallos (District 5, Manhattan)
  • Council Member Brad Lander (District 39, Brooklyn)
  • Council Member Steve Levin (District 33, Brooklyn)
  • Council Member Mark Levine (District 7, Manhattan)
  • Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (District 8, Manhattan & Bronx)
  • Council Member Carlos Menchaca (District 38, Brooklyn)
  • Council Member I. Daneek Miller (District 27, Queens)
  • Council Member Antonio Reynoso (District 34, Brooklyn & Queens)
  • Council Member Donovan Richards (District 31, Queens)
  • Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez (District 10, Manhattan)
  • Council Member Deborah Rose (District 49, Staten Island)
  • Council Member Helen Rosenthal (District 6, Manhattan)
  • Council Member Ritchie Torres (District 15, Bronx)
  • Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer (District 26, Queens)
  • Council Member Jumaane Williams (District 45, Brooklyn)

“The Progressive Caucus is a force to be reckoned with,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso, Co-Chair. “We’re excited about the role this diverse coalition will play in building a more equal and just New York City, and we look forward to partnering with all of our colleagues in the City Council to accomplish that goal.”

“I’m thrilled about the potential of this expanded Progressive Caucus,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, Co-Chair. “Together, we will help advocate for a progressive policy agenda in the New York City Council. It’s an honor to be working with such dynamic and dedicated leaders.”

The Progressive Caucus is under the leadership of Council Members Antonio Reynoso and Donovan Richards (Co-Chairs), Council Member Ben Kallos (Vice-Chair for Policy), Council Member Helen Rosenthal (Vice-Chair for Budget Advocacy), and Council Member Margaret Chin (Treasurer).

Progressive Caucus Members will be determining a policy agenda for 2014 over the coming weeks.

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Progressive Caucus Announces New Leadership Team

The Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council announced new leadership for the 2014-2017 legislative session today. The five officers were determined by majority vote of the Progressive Caucus members, and are as follows:

  • Co-Chairs: Council Member Donovan Richards (CC 31, Queens) and Council Member Antonio Reynoso (CC 34, Brooklyn)
  • Vice-Chair for Policy: Council Member Ben Kallos (CC 5, Manhattan)
  • Vice-Chair for Budget Advocacy: Council Member Helen Rosenthal (CC 6, Manhattan)
  • Treasurer: Council Member Margaret Chin (CC 1, Manhattan)

“I am extremely honored to have been chosen by my colleagues to Co-Chair the Progressive Caucus,” said Council Member Donovan Richards.  “I would like to thank them for entrusting me to help fight for a more just New York City. I look forward to working with the Caucus to ensure New York City is more equitable, sustainable, and just.”

“I am honored to serve as the Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus alongside Council Member Richards,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “I am confident that the partnership with my colleagues in the Caucus will produce real solutions and promote a progressive focus at the City Council.”

“I look forward to working with the Progressive Caucus to advance a bold and innovative agenda so the city serves every New Yorker, no matter what background or neighborhood,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Through collaboration and with input from all members, the policies of the Progressive Caucus will translate into better education and jobs, more affordable housing, and greater government accountability.”

“I’m honored to be a part of the Progressive Caucus leadership team as Vice-Chair for Budget Advocacy,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “During this time of progressive leadership, every dollar in the City’s budget should be allocated with a lens towards reducing income inequality. I look forward to bringing that perspective to this new position.”

“It’s an honor to serve as Treasurer of the Progressive Caucus,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure our resources build up a stronger New York City with greater opportunity and access for all.”

The Progressive Caucus was founded in 2010 with the goals of creating a more just and equal New York City, combating all forms of discrimination, and advancing public policies that offer genuine opportunity to all New Yorkers, especially those who have been left out of our society’s prosperity.

During the 2010-2013 legislative session, Council Members Brad Lander and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito served as Co-Chairs and Council Member Julissa Ferreras served as Treasurer.

“We’re thankful to the outgoing leadership team and to the founding members of the Progressive Caucus for their vision and guidance over the last legislative session,” said Co-Chairs Donovan Richards and Antonio Reynoso. “Our city is moving towards a stronger, more united future as a result of their continued leadership. We look forward to continuing to build on the foundation that has been laid and strive to emulate their dedication to the principles of the Progressive Caucus.”

The newly expanded Progressive Caucus has added two Vice-Chair positions this session in order to better amplify and build on the policy and advocacy work of the Caucus, as articulated in the founding Statement of Principles and the “13 Bold Ideas” policy platform. The members look forward to partnering with all of their colleagues in the City Council to advance the mutual goal of city that works for all New Yorkers.

The complete list of Progressive Caucus members will be released later this month.

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Progressive Caucus Congratulates Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito

The Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council is proud to congratulate
Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito on her election as the next Speaker of the New York City Council. As the Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus, Melissa has been a consistent voice for those most in need — of a good job, of a safe place to sleep, of a quality school. We are confident that as City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito will lead our body in a progressive, transparent, and independent direction to deliver for New Yorkers.

The Progressive Caucus was formed to build power on the inside for New York’s working families and make their priorities the City Council’s priorities. Recent victories guaranteeing paid sick days for a million more New York workers and ending discriminatory policing showed that we could make lasting change. With Melissa’s election, that progressive change will become the central goal of the City Council. She is a woman of conviction and will be a fair leader who governs for all New Yorkers and gives all of our communities a voice.

Congratulations to Melissa and her family, her supporters and constituents, and New York’s progressive community. We were proud to cast our votes today and look forward to working with you to build a more just and equitable New York City.

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