New Yorkers hit budget cuts

NEW YORK, NY – New Yorkers, on Feb. 24, joined the growing solidarity with public workers under attack in several states. Originally slated as a rally against Mayor Bloomberg’s threatened layoffs and cutbacks, the rally became one in a series of actions in solidarity with Wisconsin public workers.

A thousand workers and their supporters, questioned both Mayor Bloomberg’s motivation and the impact of the layoffs and cuts which have a particularly severe impact on public education.

With Governor Walker of Wisconsin continuing his efforts to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public workers in that state, and solidarity actions growing in several states, the rally took on a new character. Speaker after speaker condemned both Bloomberg’s threatened layoffs and cuts and the attacks on public workers as well.

The Bloomberg attack on public workers includes attempts to remove union protection from large numbers of city workers by reclassifying them as being in “noncompetitive,” “exempt,” or “managerial and confidential” assignments.

He also wants to reduce worker protections by extending probationary periods, combining civil service titles (“broadbanding”), the use of “merit” increases and replacing seniority and testing with managerial fiat. Many observers have noted the similarities between Bloomberg’s intentions and a return to the patronage, cronyism, and corruption.

The rally was initiated by AFSCME Local 375 of District Council 37. Later District Council 37 itself and several other of its locals joined, including 154, 768, 1113 and 1549 (including the bulk of city clerical workers, and the largest DC 37 local).

The protest had been joined by contingents and speakers from several other unions of public and private sector workers. Speakers included Transit Workers Union president John Samuelson, and Arthur Cheliotes of the Communications Workers of America, Local 1180. Signs and banners identified many different unions and other organizations.

Photo: Bud Korotzer