By Neal Tepel
On Saturday May 22, 2010 Democrat Andrew Cuomo announced he is running for governor. “There was a time when New York was the economic capital of this country, businesses started here, jobs developed here, new technologies developed here, they followed us,” said Cuomo. “There was a time when that state government in Albany was the best state government in the nation.” New York is now a “national disgrace” and I can fix it, said Cuomo as he announced his campaign on May 22nd near City Hall in New York City.
Many labor leaders see New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s past track record supportive of labor unions and workers. Following the arrest of millionaire David Cohen, owner of the Mystique Boutique retail chain in Manhattan on February 23, 2010 for allegedly paying workers less than minimum wage and failing to pay overtime, Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union pointed this out.
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo ordered the arrest of Mr. Cohen. “When you arrest a guy, you get his attention,” said Cuomo. “Enforce the law and people will follow the law.” “This is not the first time Cuomo has stood with workers,” stated Stuart Appelbaum. Cuomo has a long history of fighting for the rights of workers like the employees at Mystique, said President Appelbaum.
Cuomo’s pro-labor record includes negotiating to protect jobs. For example, when A&P bought the Pathmark grocery store chain in 2007 for more than half a billion dollars in stock and cash, A&P reportedly planned to close several stores. As attorney general with some oversight over the deal, Cuomo worked with A&P to keep the stores open and protect the jobs of workers threatened with layoffs. In the end, A&P sold five stores to another grocery chain. No unionized stores were closed. “The attorney general’s office protected workers rights and worker’s jobs,” said John Durso, president of Local 338 RWDSU and the Long Island Federation of Labor.