NY Gubernatorial Candidate Howie Hawkins Opposes Layoff of 2,000 State Workers

Green Party Candidate for Governor Howie Hawkins Address Teacher Groups Supporting his Campaign Oct.24 in NYC

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, said today that he is opposed to the proposed layoffs of 2,000 state employees announced by Governor Paterson.

Hawkins spoke to Teachers for a Just Contract, one of a growing number of labor groups and activists supporting his candidacy.

"Paterson, Cuomo and Paladino are intent on destroying state government. The fat that needs to be cut are the bloated payrolls and spending of the public authorities and contractors. We need to put a halt to the constitutional evasion that the authorities represent. We need to cut the bureaucrats at the top who rake in enormous salaries, not the rank and file workers that are critical to our quality of life," said Hawkins, the only union member running for Governor.

Hawkins has laid out a plan for resolving the state budget deficit and to raise an additional $25 billion to invest in a WPA-style jobs program, school funding and fiscal relief by local governments by making Wall Street, bankers and the wealthy pay their fair share: stop the annual $16 billion of the Stock Transfer Tax to Wall Street speculators; restore the Rockefeller era progressive state income tax (raise $8 billion while providing 95% of New Yorkers with a tax cut); and impose a 50% tax on Bankers Bonuses they are paying themselves from the federal bailout ($10 billion).

From the website of the Teachers for a Just Contract:
We should support a candidate who stands for “good schools for all communities, fiscal equity for fully funded schools in all communities, free public education from pre-school through graduate school, who opposes privatization and union busting, and supports community schools with parent, teacher and community participation,” and ending the Taylor law penalties against our right to strike. [For more information, go to www.howiehawkins.org] The exciting news is, there is such a candidate: Howie Hawkins, a longtime Teamster, of the Green Party.

"Teachers are feeling burned by President Obama. After accepting the support of teachers and our unions all across the country, his policies have been destroying our schools, our unions and our jobs. The so-called “Race to the Top” grant program has been used by Obama and his Education Secretary Arne Duncan, to close instead of help struggling schools, to threaten the livelihoods of teachers regardless of dedication, tenure and seniority, to encourage privatization through a mindless proliferation of charter schools, and to weaken unions through merit pay.

"Here in New York, the UFT has historically supported incumbents for city council, state legislature and Congress even when their record on education and union issues has been deplorable. Only against the most notorious incumbents has the union backed a challenger to an incumbent. Where there’s no incumbent, the UFT generally backs the Democrat. The results have been bad for UFT members.

"Think of this: Although the organization of teachers unions in New York, NYSUT, is one of the top donors to state politicians and one of the biggest lobbyists, the state legislature has never questioned the anti- strike provisions of the Taylor law, and just this spring lifted the cap on charter schools and - with the complicity of the UFT - made it quicker and easier to fire tenured teachers for alleged “ineffectiveness.” Part of the problem is that Democratic party politicians and many incumbents take UFT support for granted. We have to become more independent. And the solution isn’t to support Republicans: they are even more antiunion than Democrats.

"As soon as Andrew Cuomo got the Democratic Party nomination for governor, he came out swinging against public employee unions. Announcing his choice of Robert Duffy as his running mate last May 27, Cuomo said, "Yes, he tangled with public employee unions. Guess what, we're going to be tangling with public employee unions going forward." Now that Cuomo has made his intentions to battle against us known, we’d be crazy to support him."