Greater Syracuse Labor Council

GREATER SYRACUSE LABOR COUNCIL (GSLC)

2013 Endorsement Questionnaire

1. RIGHT TO ORGANIZE

a. Do you support workers’ right to organize? Yes

b. How would you support and help workers organizing their workplace?

- Speak up for progressive state tax reform and revenue sharing as the solution to city's fiscal crisis and against changing state labor laws to give city leverage to extract concession for public employee unions 

- Speak up in support and join picket lines and solidarity demonstrations for workers organizing, striking, and in contract fights

How have you supported workers in the past?

- UFW grape and lettuce boycotts, late 1960s to 1977

- ACTWU’s J.P. Stevens Campaign, 1976-1980 


- Clamshell Alliance Labor Committee, 1976-1991 


- FOSATU/COSATU’s sanctions/divestment campaign in anti-apartheid movement, 1976-1986 


- USWA’s Phelps Dodge Copper Strike, 1983-1986 


- Anti NAFTA campaign, 1992-94 


- UPS Teamsters strike, 1997

- Global justice demos in Seattle, including the Labor Rally at the stadium and the Battle in Seattle blockade downtown, 1999 


- Auto Workers Caravan to save and create manufacturing jobs through public ownership of GM and Chrysler and public infrastructure spending to create markets for converting auto plants to green production (energy-efficient vehicles, mass transit, high-speed rail, wind and water turbines, solar panels), 2008-2009 


- Walked picket lines and attended solidarity demonstrations with striking RDSWU workers at the Mott's plant in Williamson in Wayne County, with IUE-CWA workers in contract fight with Momentive Performance Materials in Waterbury, NY, and workers illegally fired for organizing at Holiday Inn Express in Latham, NY, 2010

- Defend CNY community/labor alliance activities to reverse the public budget cutbacks and concessions on wages, benefit concessions, and labor rights, 2011

- Attended APWU rallies opposing the unreasonable federal law on benefit pre-funding that is designed to bankrupt the postal service; collected several hundred signatures on petition to keep Colvin/Elmwood Station on South Side of Syracuse open, 2011 to present.

- Joined demonstrations by city firefighters and CSEA locals against fire department cutbacks and for just contract settlements, 2013

- Linked Railroad Workers United with Ralph Nader for news conference against one-person railroad crews after crude oil train wreck in Lac-Mégantic, Québec, 2013.

How would you help secure neutrality?

I support card check neutrality on union organizing drives as a condition of receiving city contracts and economic incentives, including from the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency.

2. WAGE STANDARDS (Minimum Wage and Living Wage)

a. Would you support a Living Wage Ordinance for Onondaga County similar to the City of Syracuse? Yes

b. How would a Living Wage Ordinance in Onondaga County help workers?

The campaign to win a Living Wage Ordinance at the county level can strengthen community/labor alliances, which can translate into strength for union organizing and other pro-labor legislation.

Studies show living wage laws raise the wages of all low-wage workers in the area because employers must compete for these workers from a higher wage floor.

A higher wage floor will help low-income workers and families meet their basic expenses.

A county living wage law would remove the threat of low-wage employers in the city to relocate to the suburbs.

A county living wage law would undermine the strategy of companies that have built their entire business model on low wages.

A county living wage law would save workers tax money that goes to EITC, Medicaid, Section 8, and other forms of public assistance that enable low-wage employers to pay poverty wages.

c. Do you support requiring full public disclosure of all economic assistance given to corporations as well as full disclosure of the corporations’ compliance with labor, environmental, civil rights law, and with their won job creation or retention pledges? Yes

d. How would you strengthen the ability to hold corporations accountable for money given to create jobs?

Two approaches: (1) Establish a floor of standards through ordinances affecting equal employment opportunity enforcement, living wages, and inclusionary zoning for all city contractors; (2) Establish a template of performance goals for Community Benefit Agreements for particular projects receiving additional public economic incentives.

(1) Floor of Standards:

- Equal Employment Opportunity: I support revival, updating, and enforcement of the city's Equal Employment Opportunity Program (City Ordinance 302 [1973]), including re-establishment of the Human Rights Commission.

- Living Wages: I support expanding the coverage to all contractors, including recipients of economic incentives, and city employees. I support expanding the Living Wage law to establish city-certified Community Hiring Halls to serve as the first source for hiring qualified workers on city contracts, as the Living Wage laws of Boston and New Haven have done.

- Inclusionary Zoning: I support a Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance that would require a given share of new construction, including substantial rehabilitation, to be affordable by people with low to moderate incomes.

(2) Community Benefit Agreements

I support Community Benefit Agreements with performance goals and clawback provisions for recipients of public subsidies, tax breaks, and other incentives, including:

- A minimum number of jobs retained and created;

- Compliance with labor, civil rights, and environmental laws;

- Card check neutrality in union organizing drives;

- A 2-year early warning of intention to move or close;

- Worker and community right of first refusal to buy if the firm or plant is to be sold;

- Prevailing wages;

- Health coverage for all employees;

- Surety to reimburse the public treasury if the company fails to meet performance goals.

3. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ISSUES

a. Do you support reforming the Economic Development Agencies in New York? Yes

b. How will you maintain living wage, job training, and local labor accountability – including claw backs in these policies?

See the Floor of Standards and Community Benefit Agreements that I support as discussed in the previous question.

4. PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENTS AND CONSTRUCTION ISSUES

a. Would you support Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s) for all State, County and Municipal building/construction projects to ensure that correct wages are paid and the projects are completed on him? How? Yes

I will speak up in support Project Labor Agreements because they ensure fair wages, maximize jobs for local labor, facilitate more accurate bidding, and minimize labor-management disputes that delay project completion.

In particular, I support extending the Project Labor Agreement entered into by Joint Schools Construction Board for phase I into phase II.

5. HEALTH CARE

a. Counties pay a percentage of Medicaid costs that have been capped by the State of NY. Counties also have the responsibility for Medicaid administration, enrolling people and administering certain benefits like personal care. Knowing that a majority of dollars that is spent by the County on healthcare gets reimbursed through State and Federal funding, would you support enrolling more people in Medicaid? Yes

b. If you support enrolling more people through Medicaid, how would you go about enrolling people?

I will stay in touch with, support, and refer people to Lanika Mabrey, a 4th District resident who works for the Public Policy and Education Fund of New York to help eligible people enroll in Medicaid or qualify for subsidies for insurance purchased on the health exchange.

I will also continue advocating for The New York Health bill (A.5389-a/S.2078-a), which would establish a state single-payer public health insurance program for all New York residents. According to a 2009 study commissioned by New York state, such a plan would save New Yorkers $28 billion in 2018 compared to the individual mandate plan enacted with the Affordable Care Act in March 2010. A state single payer program would be enormous “mandate relief” for the city.

c. If you do not support more enrolling more citizens through Medicaid, how would you propose delivering better care to our community?

6. EDUCATION

a. Describe how you support and strengthen public education.

I will speak up and organize for fully funding public schools. I will organize with labor, community groups, and other elected officials to demand full funding of the Foundation Aid Formula by the New York State, which went into the current fiscal year with a cumulative shortfall of $7.7 billion below what was promised when enacted in 2007. As an independent Green Party member of the council, I will have the freedom to speak up on this issue and give cover to Democrats on the council to join me in such advocacy but who have been reluctant so far to speak up against Cuomo's budgets and Miner's focus on balancing the city budget on the backs of city workers instead of demanding that the state provide the revenue sharing and school aid it has previously promised.

7. COMMUNITY ISSUES

a. What are the three (3) most pressing issues facing your municipality?

1. Resolving the City Fiscal Crisis: Fully funding the city and the schools by organizing with labor, community groups, and other elected officials for progressive state tax reform and revenue sharing so the state fulfills its previously promised revenue sharing and school aid. The first item in my website campaign platform provides details on how the state can do this (www.howiehawkins.org/platform).

2. Creating Living Wage Jobs: The fastest way to relieve the unemployment and poverty in the 4th District is to enable its residents to get the city-funded jobs we already pay for with our taxes. The city's Equal Employment Opportunity Program, which was supposed to be monitored and enforced by the now defunct Human Rights Commission, must be revived. We know from Human Rights Commission reports up until the last report for 2008 that minorities are only getting one-quarter to one-third of their proportionate share of jobs with city contractors. It is time to revive the Equal Employment Opportunity Program and the Human Rights Commission and put city-certified Community Hiring Halls into an expanded Living Wage Law as mandatory first sources for hiring of qualified city residents for jobs not only with city contractors, but also with city-funded employers who are now exempt from the Living Wage law, namely, the city itself and businesses who receive city tax breaks and subsidies.

3. Building Community Wealth: For longer term economic development, I advocate cutting back on the failed trickle-down economics of tax breaks for for-profit businesses and putting top priority on the bottom-up approach of public investment in economic democracy. That means city technical and economic support for worker and consumer cooperatives and city-owned utilities (power, broadband, community media) that anchor and share the wealth they create in our neighborhoods. I advocate that the city partner with the United Steelworkers' “Union Co-op” program and the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation as such cities as Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Richmond, California have begun to do to create worker-owned union co-ops.

How would you address and solve those issues?

I would speak up and, above all, organize. As a district councilor, I would not have the power alone to win the reforms I advocate. But I would have the standing and voice to organize with labor, community groups, and other elected officials to build movements for the reforms. I would draw on 45 years experience in organizing in movements for peace, justice, labor, and the environment.

8. CONTRACTING OUT

a. What is your position on privatizing public services? 

I oppose the privatization of public services. Any short-term cost savings come at the expense of public unionized workers who are often replaced by low-wage workers for non-union contractors. And it is not long before private contractors, having secured initial contracts by low-balling bids, escalate fees once they capture the market and cutback on the services delivered in order to maximize profits. Public services have accountability built in to the democratic process that can keep the quality of service up and the costs contained.

How would you preserve the Triborough Amendment?

I will speak up against the efforts of politicians such as Mayor Minor and Governor Cuomo to weaken or repeal the Triborough Amendment in their attempt to balance budgets by cutting public employee wages, benefits, working conditions, and job security. I will speak up for progressive state tax reform and revenue sharing as a much better way to resolve the fiscal crisis of the city and its schools. 

CAMPAIGN INFORMATION

a. Please describe your community involvement.

Board Member, Southside Community Coalition

Board Secretary, Eat To Live Food Cooperative at 2323 S. Salina St., Syracuse

b. Please list all organizations and individuals who have endorsed your candidacy.

Green Party of Onondaga County

Socialist Party of Central New York

c. What is your fundraising goal? $15,000

d. Fundraising amount to date? $2,000

e. Will you list the Greater Syracuse Labor Council, AFL-CIO endorsement on all post-endorsement literature? Yes

f. Would you agree to attend a policy forum sponsored by the Greater Syracuse Labor Council annually? Yes

g. Would you ensure that all literature is done by a union printer? A list can be found at www.cnylabor.org. Yes

h. Why are you seeking the endorsement of the Greater Syracuse Labor Council?

As a working Teamster (Local 317, truck unloader at UPS), I would be proud to have the Labor Council's endorsement.

The Labor Council's endorsement of a rank-and-file union member and independent Green would send a signal to the Democrats who hold all current elected positions in the city that they cannot take labor for granted, that there is a political price to pay for letting the Equal Employment Opportunity Program and Human Rights Commission die, for not filling city positions for years on the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council, for stalling public power, for granting economic development benefits and bailouts to anti-union businesses, and for trying to balance the city's budget by cutting services and public workers' wages, benefits, and bargaining rights with respect to pensions, health care, and seniority, which will undermine the standards of all workers, private as well as public, unorganized as well as organized.

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Howie Hawkins is the 2017 Green candidate for Syracuse Mayor
Hawkins for Mayor