ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- Unions representing more than a million New Yorkers are saying it’s time for the state’s ultra-wealthy to do their part in alleviating budget shortfalls related to the coronavirus pandemic. They are asking Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislators to pass tax proposals affecting only top bracket earners to make up for approximately $13 billion in revenue loss stemming from COVID-19.
The unions, which include New York State Nurses Association, New York State Public Employees Federation, New York State United Teachers Union, Service Employees International Union Local 1199, and United Auto Workers, say they are not only representing their members but millions of workers suffering from an unequal economic system that favors the very wealthy.
Unions representatives all shared a similar message- that a long-term solution to unequal wealth distribution needs to be addressed, that help from the federal government won’t be enough to make up for revenue lost from the coronavirus pandemic, and that New York’s most affluent need to share in the sacrifices being made by workers.
“We need a two-pronged approach,” says New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta. “The federal government has got to step up and deliver stimulus funding for education, but the state also needs to ask the ultra-wealthy to pay their fair share.
“New Yorkers, they know that the tax system is unfair and rigged against them. They know that millionaires and multi-millionaires should pay more, so we think the choice is quite simple and quite clear,” says Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director, Ron Deutsch, who also attended the press conference.
The unions are working across state lines with other union representatives, saying they will continue encouraging their members to speak up and continue to put pressure on state government officials.
“We’re taking steps right now because we are facing literally thousands of layoffs by Friday of our faculty, of our adjunct faculty and staff,” says Professional Staff Congress CUNY President, Barbara Bowen. “We have been organizing and working for several weeks and months to actually build our union support.”
“This is going to fall back on the legislature at the end of the day. We can continue to have our conversations with them, our members continue to speak to them directly, but if they don’t do something about the lack of revenue coming into the state and we do implement these cuts, then it’s their constituents that are going to be hurting. And they’re going to come right back to the table and say ‘What are we going to do about this?’ and we’re going to look at them and we’re going to say we had these conversations,” says District 37 Council Associate Director, Jahmilla Edwards.