Working Families Statement To Allies On Convention And Cuomo Backing

From Dan Cantor,National Director:

“It has been an interesting week. Below the links are a few background paragraphs on the recent developments in New York that I really hope you will read. So do scroll down. A few press highlights first:

A week ago last Saturday, the State Committee of the New York WFP nominated Governor Cuomo for reelection. He received 58% of the vote to 42% for Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout. It was an un-scripted, un-sanitized, un-edited political debate at a political convention. Imagine that! 700 people were on the edge of their seats for 4 hours. The winners didn’t gloat, the losers didn’t stalk off. It was a room filled with strong feelings, with solidarity, with love.

Teachout supporters argued that a new progressive voice offered the chance to attract new support to the WFP. Teachout herself gave a well-received speech, receiving applause from both sides of the house. She ended with a call for the party to stay united regardless of the outcome of the roll-call vote. She was a class act throughout.

In the end, what carried the day for the Governor was the emergence of a unified effort – Mayor de Blasio, New York WFP, much of the labor movement, community organizations, the State Democratic Party, and, of course, the Governor – to once and for all remove the Republican Party from control of the State Senate. Even as there was disagreement on the party’s gubernatorial nomination, there was none at all on the centrality of returning the State Senate to a Democrat-Working Families majority.

The fast food, car wash, and other low-wage worker advocates in the party have reason to be especially excited. The Governor’s decision to lead the effort to take back the state Senate makes legislation possible to dramatically raise wages for low-wage workers.

This was the most hard-fought decision the NY WFP has ever made. There are wonderful people within this organization who profoundly disagree with one another about whether it was the right one. But I think I can say with confidence that the vast majority do agree that it was a privilege to face this challenge. We have built a real organization, with real power. That’s why the stakes, as well as the emotions, were high.

If we win the electoral victories in November that we believe are within our reach, good things will start to happen, and they will have the support of the Governor. On the list:

  1. An increase in the minimum wage to $10.10, indexed to inflation, with a way for low-wage workers to increase it another 30% above that in high cost cities and counties across the state. This would put New York City in the same category as Seattle, after their recent passage of $15 / hour.
  2. Increased access to college for the children of immigrants via the DREAM Act.
  3. Significant gains for women (and men) on both the economy (pay equity, etc.) and reproductive rights with passage of the Women’s Equality Act.
  4. An end to the counter-productive and racist sentencing of thousands of young men, mostly black and brown, by decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana, which of course alters life trajectories in all sorts of terrible (and utterly predictable) ways.
  5. Increasing the state’s investment in high need school districts, including support for 100 new Community Schools. Missing here is full funding for the Campaign for Fiscal Equity formula, and we remained committed to working towards that.
  6. Passage of public financing of elections, which will end the dominance of big money in Albany and unlock the door to progress on other issues in the future.

Of course, we have to win the elections first, and the big-money crowd will do everything possible to stop us. The real estate lobby, the Wall Street millionaires who want to privatize everything — they’ll all be pouring money into the Republicans.

In other words, we’ve got our work cut out for us. We’ll need voters, door-knockers, house-party hosts, phoners, arguers, counter-arguers, and all the rest that makes democracy possible. Whether you live in New York or are building the WFP in another state, I hope you will do what you can to bring this one home.

Thanks for reading. Needless to say, I welcome your feedback, insight and solidarity. “

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