June 2, 2010

Workers get Lay-offs and Pay Freezes, Banks make Billions

Today the NYC DOE and the UFT (our sellout union) announced a two year wage freeze for all teachers. This could really be almost 3 years since our contract expired 7 months ago. This agreement will stop any lay-offs of teachers and guidance counselors. This does not mean schools are unaffected as aides and other DC37 workers have already lost 500 positions earlier this year, and there are more to come. Other city workers are facing lay-offs of thousands of positions, especially as the courts have ruled that the city cannot back out of contractual obligations that were negotiated.

So the UFT was given the choice of lay-offs or a salary freeze. These are the choices as long as we let the ruling class pose the question. But let’s take a step back for a minute. What industry is at the heart of New York? What industry depends on the services of New York to continue to provide safety for its workers; healthcare for its workers; education for the children of its workers? Well we know the answer to this – Big Banks! That’s right the same people that caused this financial crisis. The same ones that have received hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars in bailouts. The same ones that are once again turning record profits of tens of billions of dollars each quarter!

How are these things connected? Well, here’s a couple of interesting facts: NYC has debt in the form of bonds. These bonds are bought mostly by big finance. Paying this debt will cost NYC $2.469 billion in financial year 2011. (http://council.nyc.gov/html/budget/PDFs/2011/pbr_omb_2011.pdf)

NYC also has a projected deficit for financial year 2011. That deficit was projected to $1.191 billion dollars. (http://www.comptroller.nyc.gov/bureaus/bud/Summary_budget_report.shtm)

So let’s do the math….If the city were to suspend its debt service for this year they would not only cover this year’s deficit but make a huge dent in the 2012 projected deficit. Yet, no one talks about this option.

THIS IS CAPITALISM. Profits come before people.