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Via Governor Cuomo Sends ‘Mixed Messages’ On Labor Issues In Six Separate State Of The State Address Held Across New York From Manhattan To Buffalo

Published Wednesday, January 18, 2017
by Steven Wishnia/

(ALBANY, NEW YORK) - Governor Andrew Cuomo sent mixed message on Labor issues in the six separate State of the State addresses he delivered last week.

Cuomo proposed a massive infrastructure program that would likely create thousands of Union Construction Jobs, but also insisted that the State legalize app-based taxi services such as Uber and Lyft outside New York City, which would likely undercut Cab Drivers’ incomes and Worker Protections.

In six separate speeches, the governor presented himself as an economic and social “progressive” - but a fiscal conservative, someone who’d pushed through a $15-an-hour Minimum Wage and the legalization of same-sex marriage while cutting taxes and reducing the growth of State spending to the lowest rate in more than 50 years.

During all six - in Manhattan and Buffalo on January 9th, on Long Island and in Westchester County on January 10th, and in Syracuse and Albany on January 11th - Cuomo used the same basic language and structure, but with local references added, from improving Long Island’s water infrastructure to upgrading Syracuse’s airport, where “the main entrance doesn’t communicate to travelers that they have arrived to a growing and vibrant regional economy.”

Cuomo’s central proposal was what he called the Middle Class Recovery Act, which he posited as an antidote to the anger of President-Elect Donald Trump supporters.

“Most pervasive, our Middle Class is ‘hurting and angry at their lack of progress.’  In terms of ‘real’ wages, the earning potential of Working Families is ‘less than it was twenty years ago,’” he said in Manhattan. “Our Middle Class ‘feels abused.’  They were ‘collateral damage’ in the ‘economic shift’ from a manufacturing economy to a high-tech economy - and ‘they feel that their government did nothing to help.’”

The program, Cuomo said, “has three components: jobs and infrastructure; access to education; and lower taxes.”

“We’re investing ($100 billion) in infrastructure ‘all across the state,’” he said at the state university campus in Purchase on January 10th. “Ten thousand miles of roads, twenty-six hundred bridges, because the infrastructure are the arteries and the veins of the economy.”

The projects on the list include the proposed $10 billion upgrading of John F. Kennedy Airport, extending Buffalo’s light-rail line, building an additional track on Long Island Railroad lines, and for $388 million, connecting more than 10,000 homes in Suffolk County to sewage systems.

In Syracuse, to an audience that included New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, the governor also pledged to “enact a ‘Buy America’ proposal, ‘giving preference’ to American-made products in ‘all’ state procurements over ($100,000).”

The United Steelworkers (USW) praised that idea, saying it “would create the ‘strongest mandate’ for the purchase of American-made goods by State entities in the United States.”

In Buffalo, Cuomo also linked his proposal to give free tuition to public-university students who qualify to jobs. “Everyone ‘should have’ a college education.  Manufacturing jobs are ‘coming back’ because corporations moved overseas ‘because they wanted cheap Labor got uneducated Labor.’  Everything ‘is about advanced’ manufacturing and ‘advanced manufacturing is not manufacturing the way it was.’  It’s ‘manufacturing with the mind.’”

At General Motors’ new Western New York engine plant in Tonawanda, Cuomo said: “It’s ‘all automation’ and somebody at a computer terminal ‘who’s moving the automation.’”

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