LIBN: Time for Andy to play nice with NY union leaders

Monday, November 10, 2014

Congratulations to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for pulling off another win. The margin of victory was not as big as he would've liked, but we saw that coming, considering his checkered record with organized labor.
The Communications Workers of America justified its support for Cuomo on the Working Families Party line while other unions - like the Civil Service Employees Association, the Public Employees Federation and the New York State United Teachers - stayed out for obvious reasons.

Cuomo was there for the CWA in its recent strike against Verizon. He came through last-minute on the Con Ed lockout with UWUA 1-2, and followed suit with the media-sensational contract talks at the Long Island Rail Road. Upstate IBEW members find favor with the governor because he helped repower the Dunkirk and Cayuga power plants from coal to natural gas, and there's a huge project labor agreement on the Tappan Zee Bridge. The Service Employees International Union, meanwhile, likes the passage of the Safe Patient Handling Act, and soon Cuomo will put his signature on a call center bill crafted by the IBEW.

But there are major reasons why Andy didn't win by a bigger margin. His childish sparring with the public employee unions is getting old. Forget that a majority of his donors come from wealthy corporate influence and that the 2-percent tax cap has crippled schools' ability to grow with their communities; the tax cap has ticked off not just teachers, but parents and school administrators alike. And never mind that the rushed teacher evaluations linked to Common Core put teachers and students on the menu, not at the table.
Meanwhile, the governor's tough and dishonest negotiations with the CSEA were flanked by private-public sector third-party leasebacks, which unjustly cut our public-service workforce. And his support of privatizing public education and the Startup NY program, which provides tax breaks to billionaires who provide low-wage jobs, shows Andy as an Italian version of Scott Walker.
So now that the governor has been given another four years, it might be in his best interest to make up with union leaders. No New York Democrat can make it to the White House without working people and organizations that represent them.

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