Eliot Spitzer did some huge favors for the state’s largest public employee union when he was governor, so it’s no surprise that the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) has endorsed him in his race for New York City comptroller.
During 15 months in the state’s top office, Spitzer added thousands of employees to the state payroll, agreed to a contract that would raise the base pay of CSEA members by about 14 percent over four years, and issued an executive order allowing CSEA to organize thousands of publicly subsidized home-based daycare providers.
The head-scratcher in the comptroller’s race is the attitude of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), which is opposing Spitzer and backing Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer in the primary. “We’re going to make sure that we do everything in our power to make sure Scott is the next comptroller,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew has said. On the surface, UFT’s participation in the “Stop Spitzer” movement shapes up as a monumental case of ingratitude on the part of the union.
After all, Governor Spitzer did two huge favors for UFT. First, his first budget initiated an unwise and ultimately unsustainable increase in state aid to schools, with an extra big boost for New York City. Second, he designated UFT as bargaining agent for newly unionized daycare workers in New York City, as part of the same executive order that channelled such workers to CSEA in the rest of the state. That translated directly into new dues revenue for the teachers’ union, which has few other avenues for growing its membership.*
* In proposing a school property tax cap in 2008, Spitzer did light the official fuse on an idea loathed by the statewide New York State United Teachers (NYSUT). But New York City wasn’t affected by the cap and UFT thus no reason to hold a grudge over it.