Talk about coming late to the party. Nearly half of Americans already have concluded that the U.S. is likely to experience another Great Depression in the next year, about the same number of Americans who live in households where someone has lost a job or fears they soon will lose a job.
Now New York's Democrat Governor, Andrew Cuomo, is threatening to lay off nearly 10,000 state workers starting on July 15 unless their unions agree to a list of painful demands, including no across-the-board raises for four years; a 25%-35% raise in costs for health insurance coverage for dependents; huge increases in co-pays for medical treatments and prescription drugs; and even a $25-per-month charge to each public worker who smokes ($50 if the worker's spouse/domestic partner also smokes). All that plus a revised, more expensive pension plan for new hires who will retire at age 65 instead of age 62 or (in the case of teachers) age 57.
Cuomo looks like he is playing hardball, even with the Public Employees Federation (PEF) that endorsed him. (The CSEU remained neutral prior to the gubernatorial election.) The heads of New York's state agencies have been given until today to prepare for the threatened layoffs by providing lists of specific jobs to be eliminated.
Cuomo's rationale for the cuts is that "annual pension costs have ballooned over the last decade from $368 million to $6.6 billion outside New York City, and from $1.1 billion to $8.4 billion in the city."
Danny Donahue had a few choice words in reply:
"This is obscene. It's an attempt by the governor to make people frightened. Well, you've done that. You've gotten people frightened, but you've also identified yourself as the biggest bully on the block. . . . In my humble opinion, layoffs mean the government has failed. Layoffs mean the governor has failed because there has to be a better way."A union president is calling a Democrat the "biggest bully on the block?" That's news.
"When," asked Donahue, "did a cafeteria worker, or a school bus driver, or someone cleaning the street become the enemy?"Let me venture an answer to your question, Mr. Donahue. About the same time that a plumber did.