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March 15, 2011
At a special meeting on Friday night, the PSC executive council voted to take direct action against the proposed State budget, which imposes fierce economic austerity on CUNY and other public services while protecting the wealthiest New Yorkers and the corporations from paying their fair share.
On Wednesday, March 23, the PSC will lead a peaceful, non-violent protest in Albany, during which some of us are prepared to risk arrest to stop an austerity budget from passing. I am writing to ask you to join us. All who want to participate in peaceful protest are welcome. Click here for a flyer. There will be important support roles for those who choose not to risk arrest. Contact Rob Murray, Organizing Director, at [email protected] or (212) 354-1252 to sign up.
This is a defining moment in national and New York economic policy; everyone who cares about economic justice should try to be there.
Throughout the spring, the PSC has vigorously advocated for a fair budget. Last week we exceeded our goal of ten percent of PSC members sending messages to Albany. And those messages have made a difference, most visibly in the State Assembly’s budget. During the past two months PSC members have testified, lobbied, and rallied; today we marched through the legislative building in Albany with hundreds of chanting students, faculty and staff from both CUNY and SUNY. All of these activities have been essential, and have made it possible for us to take an even more forceful stand now.
We are taking a stand because of what’s at stake. The governor’s budget slashes funds for schools, colleges, CUNY, health care and many other public services, yet includes a tax break for the highest earners. The State Assembly’s budget restores some funds to CUNY, but leaves in place a ten percent cut to the CUNY senior colleges, while only partially revoking the tax break for the top earners.
Without a fundamental shift in direction, the budget passed in Albany will force economic austerity on working people in order to concentrate even more wealth among the rich. Income inequality has not been this extreme in the U.S. since the eve of the Great Depression, and the state with the greatest inequality is New York. Economic austerity for ordinary New Yorkers will not lead to economic recovery; it will lead only to increased poverty, blocked opportunity, and a greater concentration of wealth and power.
That’s why we are taking a stand on March 23 in Albany—and inviting all New Yorkers who care about economic justice to join us. The PSC will provide transportation and training. Please sign up to come, and invite your colleagues and students. As always, you must provide for coverage of your own work responsibilities at CUNY. Once you have signed up, we’ll send you more information about the event and the plans for the day. Several community groups and SUNY colleagues have already signed on to join us; I hope you can be there too. Click here to sign up.
Risking arrest is a serious action, and we do not take it lightly. But this is a moment at which we cannot stand by. In the last few months, we have seen how peaceful collective action can change the course of history. As we approach the April 4th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, we might invoke his analysis of the union campaign he was supporting that day in Memphis: “a moral struggle for economic justice.” That’s the struggle we plan to bring to Albany on Wednesday, March 23; I hope you can be with us.