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2009 News Releases

January 7, 2009

Stephen Madarasz - CSEA/AFSCME: 518 257-1270
Darcy Wells - PEF: 518 785-1900
Leah Gonzalez - SEIU 1199: 212 603-1190
Dawn Curry-Clarry - SEIU 200United: 315 529-7486
Zita Allen - District Council 37: 212 815-1535
Mark Genovese - NYS Nurses Assoc.: 518 782-9400

March for Main Street: Middle class New Yorkers
deserve better than paying more, getting less

ALBANY - Thousands of working New Yorkers converged on the state Capitol today to March for Main Street. The march was scheduled to coincide with Gov. David Paterson's first State of the State address to challenge the governor's misplaced budget priorities that target middle class New Yorkers.

Organized by CSEA, PEF, 1199 SEIU, SEIU 200United; AFSCME New York, District Council 37, the New York State Nurses Association and the New York State AFL-CIO, the event stressed that communities, jobs and services are at risk under the governor's plan.

Participants traveled from every part of the state under difficult weather conditions to be a part of the march along with Capital region residents.

"We helped organize the March for Main Street to send a message loud and clear," said CSEA President Danny Donohue. "All working New Yorkers live on Main Street and it's time for all of us to stand up and say no to proposals that will have us pay more and get less while the wealthiest New Yorkers slide by."

"The governor's proposed 2009-10 budget includes destructive cuts in state services and the state work force while ignoring cost-cutting options that can save the state billions," said state Public Employees Federation (PEF) President Ken Brynien. "Our members are already doing more with less having endured $1.5 billion in cuts to state agencies. It's time our legislative leaders look elsewhere to balance the budget and start cutting the waste not the workers and taxing millionaires, not the middle class."

"As representatives of health care workers across New York state, we are proud to be part of this broad coalition of New Yorkers standing up for fairness as we try to get through this budget crisis together," said George Gresham, president of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. "With Governor Paterson delivering his State of the State address today, we know that there are clear solutions to these challenging economic times that truly and equitably share the sacrifice of this budget deficit without putting the brunt of the burden on working and middle-class families. With Fair Share Tax Reform, which would raise taxes on only the wealthiest New Yorkers making more than $250,000 a year, we can ensure all New Yorkers share in the sacrifice while preventing the need to make the most severe cuts that would disproportionately hurt working and middle-class families."

"Our communities, consumers and students cannot afford these proposed cuts," said SEIU Local 200United President Jerry Dennis. "It is time for the governor to stand up for the average New York family and ask the millionaires to pay their fair share."

"The governor's budget cuts are unfair, unjust and unwise. His proposal to slash funds for health care, education and other social safety net services endangers the lives of those who need them and the jobs of workers who provide them," said District Council 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts. "Instead of balancing his budget on the backs of poor and working New Yorkers, the governor should explore revenue-generating proposals like a millionaire's tax, and other more equitable across-the-board alternatives." DC 37 is New York City's largest public employee union, representing 125,000 members and 50,000 retirees.

"Registered nurses throughout New York state are already working with a level of staffing that can at best be described as 'hazardous.'" said Barbara Crane, RN, president of the New York State Nurses Association Delegate Assembly. "Reductions in health care funding over the past decade have resulted in nurse-to-patient ratios that are both dangerous and intolerable."

"We've seen staff reductions in primary, preventive, and outpatient care. Additional cuts of this magnitude would seriously jeopardize the quality of care delivered at health care facilities throughout the state and would put further stress on nurses who are already working short-handed," Crane said. "Our hospitals, clinics and nursing homes are the most vital link to the health, safety, and well-being of the people in this state, and must be supported as such. We're calling on the state to maintain its commitment to quality health care."

"The governor's budget proposal makes some very dangerous choices," said New York State AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes. "Some of the cuts proposed will permanently damage this state, and make a deepening recession even worse. The future of our state depends on a comprehensive, balanced approach including a fair and progressive state income tax system. The New York State AFL-CIO looks forward to working with all parties involved in the process. I'm confident that together we can make the right choices on behalf of New York's working men and women."

The March for Main Street participants will continue to speak out and advocate for better choices because New Yorkers deserve better than what the governor has proposed.

District Council 37 is New York City's largest public employee union, with 125,000 members and 50,000 retirees.



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