In the weeks leading up to the election for New York state governor, endorsements began coming in for Democratic candidate Andrew M. Cuomo. They were from the business sector, law-enforcement groups and even the AFL-CIO.
Who did not endorse the governor? The groups who are most likely to be impacted by the governor's budget proposal - the CSEA and the New York State United Teachers.
In his budget message, the governor did not flinch. He presented a plan that held the line on spending, taxes and fees. That plan, however, still needs a partnership with some of the state's largest stakeholders - the CSEA and NYSUT.
Unfortunately, the response from these groups to the governor's plan is what we have heard before:
These cuts are unfair.
People will lose jobs.
A contract is a contract.
For the record, we agree it is not fair for state workers, teachers or any other public employee to be losing jobs. But when the unions consistently fight for the most senior positions - or those at the top - while sacrificing the jobs of those at the bottom, are the unions really representing the best interests of all their members?
Last week, Cuomo - in a commentary in the OBSERVER - asked for sacrifices in the state and education sector. Some of his points included:
Freezing wages, as he has proposed to do for state workers, to save school districts $1.1 billion.
Having school district employees make the same health-care contributions that state employees make that would result in $500 million to $600 million in savings.
Cutting the salaries of the more than 2,000 high priced school administrators who receive more than $150,000 in salaries and benefits would result in substantial savings.
Sharing in the sacrifice - and the pain - is all the governor is really asking for in this fiscal crisis. If the public union leaders cannot be part of the solution, then they are unfortunately part of the problem.
Especially if the answer from the unions is shedding jobs for those with the least experience to save the pay raises for those at the top.