Hawkins Calls for 4 Regional Gubernatorial Debates

To the Editor:

I am the Green Party candidate for Governor.

Four years ago I finished third with 5% of the vote. Several of the issues I raised such as a ban on fracking, a $15 an hour minimum wage, and paid family leave were at least partially adopted by the Governor after the election.

After the primary debate, which largely ignored upstate New York and many critical issues starting with climate change, I proposed four regional debates (NYC Metro area, Capital District, Central NY and Western NY) to each focus on a topic area: The Economy; Government Reform; The Environment and Climate; and Social Policy, including education, health care, housing, criminal justice, and civil rights.

The debate rules should be determined by all of the candidates and the media and civic organizations, not just Mr. Cuomo. The media and civic organizations should organize the debates and hold them whether or not Cuomo decides to appear.

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Fighting Wage Theft

This commentary appeared in Workers World Today on September 21, 2018.

By Howie Hawkins

Wage theft can even happen to unionized workers

Fighting Wage Theft

BROOKLYN (Workers World Today) — National studies have shown that one-third of low-wage workers experience wage theft every week. Two-thirds have had wages stolen at some point in their work lives.

Employers use a variety of means to avoid paying wages their workers have earned: working them off the clock, failing to pay overtime, failing to pay the minimum wage, and simply disappearing without paying, an occurrence that is too often experienced by workers who are hired by contractors for temporary laboring jobs in construction, demolition, landscaping, and truck loading, hauling, and unloading.

But it is not just low-wage workers in smaller businesses who face wage theft. A study based on a compilation of court cases by Good Jobs First and Jobs with Justice found that wage theft is built into the business model of some of America’s biggest corporations. Walmart, with $1.4 billion in total wage theft settlements and fines, is the worst offender, followed by FedEx with $502 million. Retailing is the industry with the highest aggregate penalties ($2.7 billion), followed by financial services ($1.4 billion), freight and logistics ($828 million), business services ($611 million), and insurance ($557 million). Among top offenders are household names like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and State Farm Insurance.

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Why We "Demand More!"

This commentary appeared in the Socialist Worker on September 18, 2018

By Howie Hawkins and Jia Lee

Howie Hawkins and Jia Lee, Green Party candidates for governor and lieutenant governor in New York, explain how their campaign is aiming to raise expectations that have been systematically lowered by the state’s Democratic Party leaders.

WHEN OUR Green Party campaign for governor and lieutenant governor of New York settled on the campaign slogan of Demand More! we had three points in mind.

First, we wanted to “raise our expectations,” as Ralph Nader always enjoins us to do. In New York, that means, first of all, clean government. Public corruption is rampant.

More than 50 state officials have been driven from office since 2000 for ethical or criminal violations. During Governor Cuomo’s most recent term, the Speaker of the Assembly, the leader of the Senate, two of Cuomo’s top aides and a slew of Cuomo campaign contributors who received lucrative state contracts have been convicted of a variety of bid-rigging, bribery, fraud and kickback charges.

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Labor Day Statement: New Yorkers Need a Raise

This commentary was published on the national Green Party website on Labor Day, September 3, 2018 and in Workers World Today and Socialist Worker on September 5, 2018.

by Howie Hawkins

I’m a Teamster who had his pension cut 20% with the approval of the U.S Treasury Department just before I retired. Existing retirees were cut 30%. These cuts were made by a bipartisan act of Congress in 2014 that removed the guarantee in the 1974 Employment Retirement Income Security Act that earned pensions could not be cut. I planned my retirement on that guarantee. The consolation prize for my pension cut is that I can go back to work for up to 1000 hours a year at UPS unloading trucks while still receiving my diminished pension. But I lose my seniority and start over at the state minimum wage of $10.40 an hour.

One big reason I am the Green Party candidate for Governor of New York is because New Yorkers need a raise. I am not the only worker losing ground. Wages are low and stuck in place. Pensions are disappearing. But rent, health care, college, and property taxes keep going up and up. The rich get richer while the rest of struggle to pay our bills and even stay in our homes.

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The Green New Deal as an Economic Bill of Rights

This article appeared in Workers World Today in Brooklyn on September 1, 2018.

The Green New Deal is an Economic Bill of Rights

"The Green Party has been campaigning for a Green New Deal that would be the fulfillment of the original New Deal’s aspiration for an Economic Bill of Rights – with added right to a clean and sustainable environment, particularly to address the mounting climate crisis." - Howie Hawkins, the 2018 Green Party candidate for Governor of New York.

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Nuclear Power is Unreliable, Dangerous, Costly

This letter was published by the Syracuse Post-Standard on August 28, 2018.

To the Editor:

The column by the Office of Nuclear Energy's Edwin McGinnis ("New York and the nation need nuclear," Post-Standard, Aug. 26, 2018) is more fake news from the Trump administration.

McGinnis calls Fitzpatrick "reliable baseload power ... 24/7, 365 days a year." But it's frequently down for refueling and repairs. Fitzpatrick had to reduce power 11 times in the first three months of 2014 because its aging cooling system kept springing leaks.

Clean energy? McGinnis ignores the nuclear waste piling up that is deadly for 250,000 years and how a meltdown accident could make our region uninhabitable for 20,000, years like Chernobyl.

McGinnis touts the $12 million in state and local taxes Fitzpatrick pays. With the Cuomo administration's $7.6 billion bailout to Exelon to keep Fitzpatrick and two other aging and financially failing nukes operating, we could replace those tax revenues for generations. We could also provide plant workers nearing retirement with generous pensions and maintain the income and benefits of younger workers until they find comparable work. We would still have several billion left to invest in truly clean solar, wind and geothermal energy.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's campaign manager, Maggie Moran, is a lobbyist whose clients include Exelon. Both Trump and Cuomo support nuclear subsidies to keep a dying industry alive. As long as we have decision-makers like these in power, it's hard to be optimistic that our energy future will be determined by sound economic and environmental policy instead of corrupt pay-to-play politics.

Howie Hawkins

Hawkins is the Green Party candidate for governor of New York.

Progressive Democrats Have Little Power Without an Independent Left

Green Party Power Blog: August 15, 2018

Stephanie Luce asks [in this piece for the web magazine Solidarity] why did [NY Gov.] Cuomo shift leftward after the 2014 gubernatorial election in New York? Her answer is that progressives working inside the Democratic Party – Working Families Party, Zephyr Teachout, Bernie Sanders, Fight for $15 demos organized by Democratic Party-oriented unions – changed the political landscape and forced Cuomo to move left to recover the left wing of his electoral base.

What is missing in Luce’s analysis is the role of the independent left and the votes Cuomo lost to the Green Party in 2014....

Greens give the reform Democrats their due. We acknowledge that Cuomo felt and feels their pressure. But they should give also the independent left its due as well, especially when Luce claims the WFP is trying to rebuild trust with progressives who were so dismayed at WFP’s nomination of Cuomo. That trust-building has certainly not been extended to the Greens. Consistent with the WFP narrative, the Green Party is absent in Luce’s analysis. WFP is making no attempt to build positive working relationships with the left that is independent of the corporate-financed Democrats. Rather, they work to keep the independent left out of the decision-making and the speakers platforms in coalitions they influence.

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Is Socialism Breaking Out?

A shorter version of this commentary appeared as "Give Me Real Socialism" in The Indypendent, August 2018. A short interview followed by a reading of the commentary is here.

By Howie Hawkins

July 24, 2018

A funny thing happened on the way to the 2018 election. Socialism broke out!

Or at least a number of Democratic candidates have declared themselves to be socialists.

On June 26, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat the Democratic machine incumbent, Joe Crowley, in a Queens/Bronx Democratic primary for Congress. She won with the support of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and embraced the socialist label. Within days, the Working Families Party-endorsed Democrats for Governor and Lt. Governor, Cynthia Nixon and Jumaane Williams, were saying we, too, are socialists now. And lots of people and mainstream media were asking, what is this democratic socialism?

As someone who came up in the McCarthy and Cold War eras – when the word socialism stopped rather than started conversations – it is a welcome sight to see socialism coming back into mainstream public discourse for the first time since the 1930s.

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Socialist Solutions to Pressing Problems: Health Care, Climate Change, Housing, Broadband, Credit, Inequality

by Howie Hawkins

July 13, 2018

What Is Socialism?

For the first time since the 1930s in America, socialism is back on the table for broad public discussion thanks to the significant support for self-styled democratic socialists in recent elections since Bernie Sanders' presidential run in 2016. The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) elected 15 members to local offices in 2017, eight Democrats and seven independents in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New York, Ohio, and Virginia. In 2018 to date, seven women supported by DSA have won their Democratic primaries for congress and state houses in Omaha, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New York City.

But what is notably missing in these candidates' descriptions of socialism is the distinguishing feature of the socialist tradition's program: a new democratic economic system based social ownership of the major means of production and distribution.

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The Contradictions of Cross-Endorsements in the Governor’s Race

This commentary appeared in the Gotham Gazette on May 10, 2018.

by Howie Hawkins

That didn’t take long. On Saturday, April 13 the Working Families Party endorsed Democrat Cynthia Nixon for New York Governor. By the following Tuesday, the WFP said they didn’t really mean it.

“We will not be a spoiler,” said Bill Lipton, the WFP’s political director, indicating that the WFP will take Nixon off its ballot line if she loses the Democratic primary against Governor Andrew Cuomo. Perhaps the WFP will offer Cuomo their ballot line for a third time if he wins the Democratic primary – if he will take it.

I feel for rank-and-file WFP progressives. It’s an abusive relationship. They got double-crossed by Cuomo in 2014 when they endorsed him. This year they got strong-armed by Cuomo when they didn’t.

I would like to reassure WFP progressives that, whatever happens in the Democratic primary, the Green Party gubernatorial ticket will offer a progressive alternative in the November 6 general election.

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