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Public Employees March on Albany

May 12, 2010

When public employee union leaders speak out on policy matters it is usually for the benefit of the rank and file, not the public at large. These officials say what they think their members want them to say. If the majority of members are perceived to be angry about something, then the officials make angry comments.

In posturing for the members, these officials can sometimes do a disservice to the union itself. Such is the case now. PEF and CSEA leaders have been engaging in a lot of disparaging comments lately regarding Governor Paterson’s efforts to address the state fiscal crisis. Yes, Paterson is inconsistent and ineffectual, but this is one time when he is right and the majority of New Yorkers recognize that.

The state must take action to avoid insolvency. Paterson has proposed a temporary furlough program, which, from a state worker standpoint, should be infinitely better than layoffs or sacrificing a scheduled pay raise.

But the union leaders are having none of it. They’ve rejected efforts to achieve cost savings and are now planning to march on the Capitol, some 100,000 strong on Monday.

Think about this scenario:

Almost ten percent of New Yorkers are out of work. The state is facing a $9.2 billion deficit this year and even larger deficits in coming years. State parks have been closed and state-funded construction projects have been idled. All of this is occurring against a backdrop in which New York has more public employees per capita than any state in the nation, as well as the highest salaries and best health care and pension benefits for state workers.

We think the unions are being tone deaf on this matter. They should accept the temporary furlough plan and consider themselves lucky.

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