Empower Working Men and Women

Corporations and billionaires have driven the agenda in Albany and in local governments all across the state.  They have rammed through cuts to worker wages, benefits, and rights as well as cuts to the services you rely on each day, all based on a promise that cuts would turn around our economy.

But, we’re no better off.  Unemployment and underemployment are all too common, wages are declining, and poverty is pervasive.

The only way to reverse the trend is to strengthen our voice on the job and at the ballot box.  That means supporting the efforts of all workers to raise their voices collectively on the job.  And it also means increasing voter participation of hardworking New Yorkers through vote by mail, early voting, and voter registration, just to name a few.

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Strengthen Supports for Working Families – On and Off the Job

New Yorkers don’t want a hand out, we just want a chance to succeed.  Together, we must provide the support necessary for hardworking New York families to excel and be safe both on and off the job.

The lack of access to quality and affordable child care, for example, is a barrier to workforce.  We must do more as a state to bridge the gap and allow more New Yorkers to be productive parts or our economic engine.

In addition, on the job safety should not be a luxury.  We need to do more to ensure that all workers have a safe and healthy workplace by extending new protections and safeguarding those already on the books.

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Lift Low Wage Workers Out of Poverty

New Yorkers are working harder and harder, but falling further and further behind.   Median family income, adjusted for inflation, declined each year from 2008 to 2011 – nearly 6% throughout the state.

The result is increasing income inequality.  Nationally, the top 1% controls 22.5% of income.  In New York State, the top 1% controls 30.3%, and in New York City, the number is 38.6%. Our tax system only exacerbates the problem.  The top 1% pays 6.9% of their total income in state and local taxes, when you account for the federal offset, while everyone else pays over 10%.

Too many New Yorkers are working full time, but living in poverty.  So many others want to work full time, but employers have increasingly created a part time economy with no benefits and abusive scheduling practices.

New York took the first step in raising the minimum wage, but there is more work to be done to lift workers out of poverty.

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Develop Strong, Long Term Industries with Family Sustaining Jobs

New York gives away $7 billion of your tax dollars per year to businesses to help attract and keep businesses through a hodgepodge of programs at the state and local levels of government.

One example is Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs), which grant tax exemptions and other incentives to businesses.  In 2011, 46% of projects receiving support IDAs, lost jobs, failed to create a single job, or never made any job promises.  94 subsidy agreements that ended in 2011 lost jobs. These businesses originally agreed to create a total of 5,971 jobs. Instead, they lost 17,017 jobs.  We can’t afford this.

If you’re receiving public dollars, it’s not enough to just create jobs – we must create good, long-term jobs in a transparent process. New York’s economic development programs should be reviewed and revised to focus on developing long-term industries with family sustaining jobs; ensure appropriate transparency, as well as labor standards and taxpayer protections, with specific and clear job creation goals; and provide a means to clawback investments in projects that fail to create promised jobs.

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Invest in Public Services

Taxes are a means to providing the services we value as a society.  So, even though tax cuts may sound great in a vacuum, we must remember tax cuts mean fewer services, which are already stretched thin.

So ask yourself, which services should we cut? Funding to your child’s school?  Repairs on the road or mass transit route you take to work every day? The police officers patrolling your community? Or, how about care for the disabled?

We need to start investing in New Yorkers and the services they rely on as part of our economic development strategy.   Strong public services are an asset, not a detriment, to creating economic activity.

For example, more than 2,000 New York state bridges, including the Brooklyn Bridge, have been deemed structurally deficient and in dire need of repairs by the federal government.  This is worse than any other state.  The state must build, rebuild, and repair our state’s crumbling infrastructure.  In addition to the ensuring safe transportation, this will create good jobs in the short-term construction, but also in the long-term by providing a key resource that all businesses rely on – the reliable movement of goods and services.

Quality education and higher education are other examples.  Both are crucial to attracting and keeping New Yorkers here, and in developing the next generation of productive workers.  When we cut resources to our children, we are diminishing our own economic capacity for years to come.

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