Demand Fair Pay for NYC Workers
Demand Fair Pay for NYC Workers
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As you begin contract negotiations with the new de Blasio administration, the undersigned implore you to mobilize the full power of a united NYC public sector work force to put forward a powerful message. After years of effective pay cuts, we expect and deserve not just a new contract, but one with retroactive wage increases and no givebacks.
NYC municipal workers have been working under worse conditions and for less pay than at any time since the recession of the 1970s.
Still, each and every day, we keep the city running. The deadly Superstorm Sandy showed the world, once again, the heroism of our nurses, firefighters, sanitation, transit, and other city workers, who saved the stranded and worked tirelessly to get the city back on its feet.
Why, then, are we losing ground? Mayor Bloomberg has refused to negotiate new contracts for municipal employees. With the cost of living on the rise, the net effect has been an across the board wage cut. We are among the nearly half of New Yorkers — 49 percent — who are paying rents that federal benchmarks consider unaffordable. Basic necessities increase as well.
Not all New Yorkers have had to make such sacrifices. Since the massive financial crisis in 2008, and subsequent multi-trillion dollar federal bailout, Wall Street has made billions in profits - $24 billion in 2012 alone. Likewise, New York's real estate industry continues to boom, greased with hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks.
To put it plainly, public sector and working-class New Yorkers have been subsidizing the billion dollar profits of Wall Street and the real estate industry with their tax money.
We are the teachers who put in extra hours helping kids learn. We are the health care and social workers taking care of the most vulnerable New Yorkers. We keep the garbage off the streets, we take people to work and to school, and we respond to every emergency. We earn what we receive, unlike the billionaires who treat our city budget like their personal ATM.
The city CAN afford retroactive pay for city workers and not cut back on other services. The city has run budget surpluses of over a billion dollars for over half of the last 8 years, even after factoring in the estimated $3 billion in tax breaks businesses receive every year. Small increases to taxes on high-end real estate, financial transactions, and other taxes on New York's 1% could turn the pending municipal crisis around.
The fate of New York City's municipal workers is of critical importance for all New Yorkers. Underpaid and unemployed workers need subsidies to survive. As our standard of living decreases, it strains the economy, hurts our families, and makes it harder to do our jobs. If we fight for a just contract, and stand in solidarity with other important campaigns, like the low-wage workers who are fighting for a $15 minimum wage, then a rising tide can raise all boats.
New York City today is a tale of two cities. If mayor-elect de Blasio genuinely wants to tackle income inequality, we urge him to start at the bargaining table with city workers.
Fairness, and good economic sense, demand full retroactive pay raises and full cost of living adjustments for all New York City municipal workers.