If you’re wondering who is behind the relentless attacks on public employees and their unions, and the dark night of Tier 6 — it’s time to call on Toto.
NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi, speaking at a public rally today in downtown Albany, said it’s time for Toto, the cairn terrier from the Wizard of Oz, to come forward , pull aside the curtain and “call it for what it is. It’s time to see who pulls the strings… and turns the dials for the wizard.”
The ones doing the behind-the-scenes wizardry are the billionaires, millionaires, and the Committee to Save New York, he said . “No, make that the Committee to SCAM New York!” as the crowd on the lawn outside the Capitol erupted in cheers.
The committee, he said, is Albany’s version of flying monkeys, sent to intimidate, to scare, and to frighten.
Every person listed on the board of directors and the advisory board of the Committee to Save New York, which pressed for Tier 6 pension reductions, is president and CEO of a company. Not like the “union thugs” out there teaching to a classroom crammed with 30-plus students, or the elementary school librarians who’ve lost jobs due to budget cuts because they’re not “mandated,” leaving countless children without access to their knowledge of books and computers. Not like the thousands of laid-off teachers across New York. Not like the state worker who will now have to work harder, longer, and for less pay and less retirement.
When did it become fashionable to blame the middle class and herald their losses? Right about the same time the 1% earned themselves another $20 billion in tax breaks for the next 10 years, which they just did, according to Assemblyman Thomas Abinati (D-Tarrytown).
The attack on the public sector is “racist and sexist,” said Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress representing City University of New York faculty and staff, because it has been “the route out of poverty” for many people, she said.
“We must build a movement powerful enough to bend the arc of history,” she implored the crowd. They responded with cheers and hoisted signs that said “We are the 99%.”
“I don’t think anyone here has a check going offshore,” said Assemblyman Peter Abbate Jr. (D-Brooklyn), welcoming the crowd as “the taxpayers of New York,” those who pay income tax, sales tax and real estate tax.
The attacks on teachers and public employees “have to stop” he said. He advised teachers to tell people they are “representing the future.”
“We didn’t create the economic crisis,” said Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), bemoaning the “chipping away of support of working people.”
She was wearing a button that said “Union thug and proud of it” because that’s how many lawmakers like to define state workers in an effort “to silence the voice of the working people.”
“Demand THEY explain” how Tier 6 passed, she said. “Register your discontent.”
Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt of Goshen said she was proud to be a Republican standing up for the working class because “labor is the future of this country.”
National labor is watching what is going on in Albany, said Andy Pallotta, NYSUT executive vice president.
“We’re here to shed light on votes taken in the cloak of darkness,” Pallotta said, referring to the all-nighter pulled by the Legislature last week, when Tier 6 passed just before sunrise, after a night of “twisting arms” to get the vote count needed.