CSEA’s Revenge (Updated)
Furious over the passage of Tier VI, CSEA, the state’s largest public employees union, has made an unprecedented decision to halt all political contributions and endorsements for the foreseeable future.
The union plans to use this pause to “re-evaluate our political relationships and make judgments about the criteria we use in determining who has earned and deservesour support,” according to a statement issused by CSEA President Danny Donohue, who added: “It is also important to consider how our support is valued.”
Donohue made it clear this decision is a “direct result” of the deal struck last week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders, in which organized labor believes the governor “traded” his approval on the LATFOR redistricting plans for lawmakers’ support of pension reform.
“CSEA will also use this time to consult with our brother and sister unions and other allied community organizations about how we can collectively address the disrespect and disenfranchisemen tof working people by our state’s elected officials,” Donohue continued.
“New Yorkers should understand that lawmakers’ actions did not result from meaningful debateand good judgment – it resulted from political expediency – and it will have harmful consequences to people and communities now and for a long time to come.CSEA will seek better ways to hold elected officials accountable and ensure that the voices of working people will be heard and addressed in New York state.”
It has been clear for some time that labor and Cuomo has been at odds. Even during the 2010 campaign, some unions – including CSEA – withheld support from Cuomo, thanks all his talk of public employee pay freezes, union givebacks and government spending reductions.
Donohue even went so far as to say back in August 2011 (right after a difficult contract negotiation process) that CSEA would be willing to consider a challenger to Cuomo in the future, noting that the union had bucked the traditional Democrat-labor alliance and backed Republican Gov. George Pataki in the past.
The conventional wisdom is that Cuomo will have to tack left in the coming years if he indeed wants to run for president in 2016 – although not everyone agrees with that theory, reasoning that Cuomo’s approach with the state worker unions signals a new reality for Democratic presidential candidates, particularly those currently serving as governors and tackling big financial problems in their respective states.
In the short term, CSEA’s decision has a greater impact on the Legislature, since this is an election year for lawmakers and not the governor. (He doesn’t have to run again until 2014).
It’s particularly problematic for the Senate Republicans, who have enjoyed some labor support in the past and will need all the help they can get as they battle in a presidential year to retain control of the Senate. The Democrats, as you’ll recall, didn’t cast any votes for Tier VI – with the exception of the four-member IDC, which voted no in a bloc – because they walked out of the chamber to protest the redistricting bill.
Keep in mind, however, this isn’t the first time a union has undertaken some saber-rattling. If I remember correctly, the AFL-CIO threatened to withhold legislative endorsements back in 2008 due to anger over the property tax cap, but later relented.
UPDATE: A reader takes issue with my suggestion that this might impact legislative races, sending a link to CSEA’s contribution history and writing:
“CSEA is not a major player in the statewide game. They contribute mainly on the local level, (although) in 10/2010 and 11/2011 they did give DACC’s 2 big checks: $93,000 and $50,000. I’ve never seen them put troops in a race. Donohue is a lot of hot air and sold out all the other unions when he gave in to 4 “0″s and set the awful precedent. The politicians won’t miss their participation.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on March 19, 2012 at 11:18 am, and is filed under Andrew Cuomo, Labor, Pensions. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|