By MARTY GOODMAN
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is now threatening 22,000 layoffs and massive public union concessions by October, citing a $6 billion budget gap after a net loss of $9 billion in tax revenues due to the coronavirus. However, the shortfall is available by taxing Wall Street. There are 112 billionaires in New York State worth a combined $525 billion waiting to be taxed. If NY’s rich were taxed by way of a stock sales tax – actually on the books – NY’s debts would evaporate overnight.
So far, there has been no meaningful pushback from the city public unions, led almost exclusively by Democrats, many of which have a large black membership.
The impasse is reminiscent of NY City’s 1970’s financial crisis in which union leaders in the Democratic Party cut a bailout deal with Democratic Mayor Abe Beame that included 25,000 layoffs of public workers demanded by Wall Street crooks. Many of the public workers were eventually re-hired after undergoing the trauma of layoffs, but far from all of them (the actual number was never determined). As a result, NYC’s public services remained permanently downsized by about 63,000 jobs. (For more details on the Democratic Party’s scandalous role in mass layoffs, see “Working Class New York,” by Joshua Freeman, New Press, 2000).
Today, public workers need massive union meetings to democratically discuss and vote on possible fight back strategies, which would include striking. Mass worker mobilization is sorely needed to beat back the threat to working people posed by de Blasio, the Democratic Party and Wall Street, with the racist NYPD as their enforcers. Socialists say, “No to all concessions on the backs of workers! Capitalism, racism and the Covid-19 pandemic go hand in hand! Striking is a right! Make the rich pay for this crisis!”