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New York's governor is no friend of workers
Why did unions back Pataki?

October 25, 2002 | Page 12

Dear Socialist Worker,

Last week, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the union that represents more than 80,000 New York City teachers, announced that it was endorsing Gov. George Pataki for reelection. The UFT's announcement followed a flood of endorsements of the Republican governor by some of New York City's biggest unions.

The endorsements were a shock to many because of labor's longtime relationship to the Democratic Party, even though the Democrats haven't helped workers. But Pataki's record in office is just as outrageous. He is no friend of labor and cares little about the underfunded and overcrowded schools of New York City.

UFT President Randi Weingarten told the New York Times, "We have an endorsement policy that measures people on their acts, on their measurable actions…The governor has met that endorsement policy, even though his record is not perfect."

But Pataki's record in office is not only "not perfect." It is simply abysmal. While Weingarten argued that the UFT should endorse Pataki in part because he supported making state funding available to settle the teachers' contract in June, this money was explicitly tied to a longer workday--something that many teachers who are already extremely overworked were opposed to. This is not something that New York City teachers should "thank" Pataki for.

In fact, he has made concerted efforts to deny funding to New York City schools. Pataki got an appeals court to overturn a January 2001 court ruling that found the state of New York was failing in its constitutional duty to provide a decent education to students, based on the disproportionate method of funding schools which led to severe underfunding of New York City schools.

Pataki's endorsement by the UFT is a part of a failed strategy and has made many teachers angry. We need to rebuild a strong rank-and-file movement in our unions to fight for real gains.

A UFT member, New York City

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