New Orleans Aside from California and Alaska, there is no stronger state for unions than New York, yet for months even before being elected as the new Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo seems to have been targeting unions as has special blame-boys for budget woes in the state. Now indisputable news emerges that he is promoting a $10-20 million fund to help wring budget cuts from New York State employees through a public relations campaign directed at their unions. When the story is in the Wall Street Journal and includes a disclaimer that Rupert Murdock, legendary union buster on three continents, is the head of one of the business groups raising the money, there really can’t be any doubt.
Cuomo is a Democrat from one of the darkest blue states in the United States. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, was more gingerly in his anti-labor tactics in California. Hard ball, sure, but not so ad hominem.
President Obama trying to shore up his base with business preempts the fiscal responsibility panel by unilaterally freezing wages for two years for 2 million federal civilian employees in government and non-combatant military. The federal unions are screaming, as they should, but this seems more about posture than power. Employees in the federal sector will still get raises in grades, seniority, and so forth, but the cost of living increase of 1 or 2% over the period will be slathered against the deficit. This is not about shared pain as much as simple political calculation.
Oh, and benefits for the unemployed are expiring again, so there’s a big fat political football that can be heaved back and forth with the Republicans screaming screw those unemployed bastards and the Democrats doing what exactly? The President pulled in the CEO of Wal-Mart to the White House this week for advice on the economy. It won’t be long before the recommendation for public workers and unemployed will be wear a blue vest and make minimum wage. Fellows, there still won’t be enough jobs.
The politics of finger pointing and worker victimization is not a program for a sick economy, but if we thought that a least Democrats understood that, then we seem to have been at the wrong party with the bad company.