I am writing in response to Gov. George Pataki's comments in the Jan. 23 News. The governor said he offered state workers an 11 percent raise over four years. He forgot to mention it was a five-year contract, offering 0 percent for 1999, 2 percent for 2000, 3 percent for 2001, 3 percent for 2002 and 3 percent for 2003. He also failed to mention that state employees would have to pay 50 percent of the total cost of their medical insurance.
During the 1990s, in seven of the 10 years state workers got a 0 percent raise. The only raises they got were 1.5 percent in 1995, 3.5 percent in 1997 and 3.5 percent in 1998. That is a total of 8.5 percent for 10 years. Yet in 1999 the governor got a 44 percent raise and the legislators got 38 percent. In 1995, they increased their daily expense money from $50 to $85 per day.
State workers are the lowest-paid municipal workers in the area. For example, the state snowplow drivers who keep our highways clean and safe start at $21,000 and go up to $25,000 after seven years of service. With the governor's offer of a 2 percent raise in 2000, that comes to $420 per year. The cost of medical insurance to employees is being raised $520 per year. This means that their wages would be cut $100 per year.
The workers are asking for 6 percent in 1999, 6 percent in 2000 and 6 percent in 2001, with no give-backs. This is not a break-the-bank contract. Look what the politicians got!