June 28, 2011
By Mel Levy
New York State and it’s major Public Sector Union has just reached a tentative agreement. The media praised the Governor for give backs he achieved. Their will be a multi year wage freeze, Workers pension contributions will go up and their health benefits will be reduced. The Governor trumpets the work force sharing the pain of a lousy economy. At the same time the Governor pushes for a halt on the millionaires tax surcharge on December 31, 2011. After all they need the money. And so Union members standard of living goes down.
Why will not this Union fight for it’s membership. Why is this another example of a Public Union FAILURE. Oh by the way what are the salaries (and benefits) of the Unions leadership.Is their standard of living going down or are they also going to get a tax break when the millionaires tax surcharge expires?
New York City also (as usual) faces a Mayor made budget crisis. The Mayor wants the Unions to provide the money for the solution. He threatens layoffs if the Unions do not kick in the money from the benefits rainy day fund. So far only the small member Unions are saying no. If the Mayor gets his way this scenario will be played next year and so on. Meanwhile the salaries of the Union leadership goes up. The Unions have the money to make a real fight . Instead they call for demonstrators. Members turn out and sometimes they get media coverage. But the next day all is forgotten. And so the Unions lose again. But not the Union leadership.
A real Union has three priorities. Job security, good wages and good working conditions. Essentially the membership wants their standard of living to go up. They want the American Dream. If the Union makes a real fight they can achieve their dream. So here is how to fight. Government throws away money. Unneeded projects are started (2nd ave subway, East Side Connection, Fulton Street Hub, City Time are some examples) and debt service goes up. This is dead money (you get nothing for the interest you pay). This results in budget shortfalls taxes go up.
The media than attacks the Public Unions who now cave in and pay. As I said the Unions have the money to make a fight and win. The public is our ally. Demonstrations inconvenience them (and are soon forgotten). Printing the truth in the Union publications are preaching to the choir, Instead the Public MUST be informed. Not a day should go by when they are not informed how they are being played as saps, they should be told how much they did not have to spend on 2nd ave (now at $64 thousand per inch), why the City Time project went from $67million yo over $727million (with the Mayor wanting to give them another $118million) etc. The Unions must spend money informing and educating the public, It means buying mass media time and space; It means leadership that will lead. Leadership that will go out to the public, It means leadership that will fight for their members not for themselves.