Howie Hawkins, the Green candidate for New York Governor, expressed his support today for the members of CSEA Onondaga County Local 834 who voted down a county contract offer yesterday by an overwhelming vote of 1,528 to 100.
"I support the CSEA workers' rejection of this miserly contract proposal. The county budget should not be balanced on the backs of county workers," said Howie Hawkins, the Green candidate for Governor.
"The proposed wage increases are insulting. They are less than the rise in the cost of living. Add in the proposed increases in health care premiums and co-pays and county workers would be going backwards under this contract offer," said Hawkins, a member of the Teamsters Local 317 who unloads trucks at UPS.
Hawkins said New York State should restore state revenue sharing and adopt a single-payer public health plan to relieve the fiscal squeeze on local governments in New York State.
"The state should pay for its mandates on local governments by restoring the more progressive state tax structure and revenue sharing levels New York State had in the 1970s. We pay our state sales and income taxes and we should get more of them back to pay for the mandates that the state places on counties and other local governments," Hawkins said.
Hawkins would also take health care off the bargaining table by instituting a single-payer public health insurance plan for all New Yorkers. "Not only would a single public insurer relieve local governments of providing health insurance, but the overall efficiency of the system compared to New York's multiple public and private plans would save all New Yorkers money while providing all New Yorkers with first-rate health coverage," he said.
Hawkins cited a 2009 study authorized by the state legislature that found that a single-payer health plan would save New Yorkers nearly $30 billion a year by 2019 compared to the current multi-payer system.
The members of CSEA Local 834 voted on Tuesday, August 5 to reject a contract with Onondaga County. CSEA has been critical of the Mahoney and Cuomo administrations for downsizing the county and state workforces. The tentative agreement offered wage increases of 0% for 2013, 1% for 2014, and 2% for 2015, 2016 and 2017. It also doubled the percentage that workers would pay for their health care premiums over the life of the contract and increased office visit co-pays and some prescription drug co-pays by 50% or more. According to a statement by CSEA Local 834, downsizing in the county workforce under the Mahoney administration has led to workloads doubling or tripling for many county workers, which has created unsafe working conditions in many county workplaces.
“It is not surprising that the Republican Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney has endorsed and hosted big-donor fundraisers for the Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo. The leadership of both major parties support austerity policies that seek to balance public budgets and pay for tax breaks for the rich by cutting the wages, benefits, and very jobs of public employees. New York State has lost 400,000 state and local government jobs since the financial crash of 2008. Meanwhile, all working people suffer as schools, public services, and infrastructure deteriorate. The big donors have two parties. It is time that working people had one of their own,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins received 7 percent support in a Marist poll released Monday, up 1 percent from the previous Marist poll released on July 10. Both Cuomo and the Republican candidate, Rob Astorino, lost support. Cuomo was down 5 percent to 54 percent support. Astorino was down 1 percent to 23 percent support.