On March 1st the New York State Senate voted 33-27 to allow for NYC teachers to be laid off without regard to seniority. NYSUT President Richard Ianuzzi calls this the “first blow” against collective bargaining in New York. He wrote in a letter to union leaders:
NYSUT will not be part of any scheme to diminish the value of each and every member regardless of her or his years of service. We will not allow a bill that exposes our members to harassment, favoritism and intimidation to divert us from our commitment to defend collective bargaining and the right to organize.
Ianuzzi cautioned about letting the Senate pit cities against suburbs and the NCCFT cautions against pitting higher education faculty against our K-12 sisters and brothers.
It has become commonplace to say that taxpayers have turned against public employees, but we know that isn’t really true. A recent New York Times/CBS poll shows that 56% of respondents oppose cutting the pay and benefits of public employees in order to fill budget deficits. When asked to choose only one strategy from a list of strategies for reducing budget deficits 40% preferred increasing taxes where only 22% preferred cutting benefits for public employees and only 3% preferred cutting funding for education.
Pitting “the public” against public employees is just another divide and conquer strategy. In reality, we are all tax payers and neighbors. We are communities. We are all struggling together during a difficult time and now more than ever we need to make sure that we support each other.
NYSUT is holding “Educate New York State” rallies around the state. Click here for the rally calendar. There is no information yet on a Nassau County rally, but we’ll post that information here when we have it. Sadly, NCC rejected NYSUT’s request to hold the Nassau County rally at the college. Meanwhile, look for any opportunity to show your support for educators, for unions, and for the communities our labor supports. If you are an NCCFT member and plan to attend a rally, please come to the union office and pick up a t-shirt or, even better, treat yourself to a sweatshirt or denim shirt and show your union pride.