Legislative Alert – 1/23/12

President’s Message

Without question the number one priority for the labor movement and the vast majority of voters across the state is the need for job creation.   The state’s unemployment rate continues to hover at 8 percent and we need to get our people back to work.  At the end of the day, all of us in the labor movement, as well as the legislature and statewide elected officials, will be judged by our constituencies by our job creation record during this time of continued economic uncertainty.

Unfortunately, one of the most prominent features of the proposed executive budget is a new pension tier combined with a new defined contribution plan for public employees.   This does not create one new job, does not create any immediate savings and it only distracts the labor movement as a whole from focusing on job creation.

Corporate cries that the private sector has largely done away with pensions and therefore, government should follow suit, ring hollow.  Given the performance of Wall Street and the blatant display of greed over the last several years, it is clear that we should not be making decisions based on their recommendations.

Many will say that we cannot afford to continue to pay the retirement benefits. Nothing could be further from the truth.  We hand away local tax breaks left and right without any oversight, tracking or performance accountability. And, two short years ago we passed a new pension tier that will create over $35 billion in savings over the next 30 years. Just like every other decision that gets made in the budget process, this is a judgment decision on this issue as to whether or not they support retirement security of public employees.

Finally, instead of referring to “the unborn” when saying who this would apply to, I prefer to remember that we are really talking about our children, grandchildren and the future generations of those  who need our support now. The next generation of New York workers  is leaving college strapped with loans that they cannot afford, they are looking at a future with interest rates that will make home ownership nearly impossible and combined with attacks on Social Security and Medicare, a proposal such as Tier 6 is destroying their retirement security.

As a nation we learned in the 1920’s that complete reliance on the market for one’s financial security does not work.  So we enacted Social Security, unemployment and other vital protections for working people. If that lesson had been lost we certainly relearned it over the last several years during the “great recession”.  Let’s not join the national chorus of attacks on programs that help working families, and instead join together, to create jobs.

Mario Cilento, President

Call to Action

Monday, January 23, 2012
1:00 p.m., 100 South Swan St, Albany

Keep An Eye On
Labor Lobbyists Meeting, 1:00 p.m., 100 South Swan Street.  Frank Mauro of the Fiscal Policy Institute will discuss the Governor’s Budget.

New York State AFL-CIO Pension Task Force Meeting, 3:00 p.m., 100 South Swan Street, Albany, NY.