Tuesday, February 1, 2011

NYS AFL-CIO Legislative Alert

The NYS Conference of Mayors, joined by individual local officials statewide have been incessantly calling for the rollback of various labor laws, such as prevailing rate, Wicks Law as well as Civil Service, pension and other important protections. Any elected official supporting such statements represents the worst hypocrisy. Hypocritical because these same elected officials have no problem accepting their own pension benefits while local governments hand out tax breaks to businesses “that never create jobs” and  because rather than own up to their decisions, they would rather blame our state elected officials.
The labor movement stands ready to work with the state legislature to get through the cuts and inevitable changes working through the budget shortfalls. We will not stand idly by while anyone attempts to tear down important, institutional labor protections.

Some wrongly say these proposals are about saving budget dollars, but the reality is that calls for eliminating these laws are an ideological anti-union stance and all union members should take note. We call on the Governor and state legislators to reject calls for repealing Triborough protection or freezing public employee wages as  smoke and mirror tactics designed to draw attention
away from the real problems  our communities face.  None of these elected officials complain about the handing out of sales tax and property tax exemptions, with no voter approval, by their very own local governments. None of these officials complain when promises of job creation fall flat.  No one complains about  taxpayer dollars for membership to organizations like NYCOM and their costs for lobbyists and consultants.  The use of taxpayer dollars for such purposes was specifically authorized  in statue by the State Legislature, and could possibly be better used to help alleviate local government fiscal problems.

Fact:   Prevailing rate and Wicks laws help the economy grow, by requiring developers and contractors to pay a decent wage so that local communities can prosper in well made safe structures.  Both laws also help  prevent fraud and corruption in the contracting process, by requiring stringent oversight and strict competitive bidding requirements with no shiftless cousins awarded construction contracts.
Fact:   Every contract and wage increase that public employees have fought for and earned was negotiated in good faith by these  very same mayors. Rather than attempt to work with their unions and live up to their collective bargaining agreements, they ask the state legislature and the Governor to do their dirty work.
Fact: Calls for a new pension tier will not save a dime
in the  long term and any changes in the retirement system will have no impact on our current budget problem.  As warned by this Federation last year, the Tier 5 issue was a misplaced priority of the previous administration that did nothing to save any significant funding in the short term and as such, here we are again, listening to the same false claims about the need for yet another pension tier.
Fact:  Calls for such changes are pure ideology and have nothing to do with our current fiscal problems.

Denis Hughes, President

Read more at the CSEA Voice Reporter (CLICK HERE)

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