New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo was applauded by big labor after including a provision in the state budget that makes union dues completely tax-deductible.
The provision will put up to $35 million back in union workers’ hands, benefiting high-income union employees who make over $100,000, according to the New York Post.
“We welcome this, particularly at a time when the right of working people to join a union is increasingly under attack,” Mario Cilento, president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization of New York, told the New York Daily News. “This new benefit will help us in our fight to continue to grow the middle class” he continued.
Critics argue the provision was inserted into the bill without debate, and that it would only benefit high-paid union workers in New York City and on Long Island.
“Most New York union workers — such as home health aides, school bus drivers, office clerks, along with public employees in upstate rural areas and small cities — won’t save anything from this new deduction,” E.J. McMahon, research director for the non-partisan Empire Center, asserted.
McMahon said the average tax savings will be around $67 per worker, comparing the provision as “not so much a giveaway as a gratuity.”
“Think of it as a dinner and a movie on the taxpayers’ dime, McMahon said, characterizing the eleventh-hour provision as an “indirect subsidy for the state’s most politically powerful unions.”
The state’s highest income union workers tend to be located in the New York City area, where powerful building trades unions operate construction sites. Teachers, police and fire fighters also make over 100,000 on Long Island and in the New York suburbs.
“We know from union disclosure reports that last election cycle union officials spent over a billion dollars of union dues money on politics and lobbying, so it is predictable that union label politicians want to encourage unions to increase forced dues,” Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“If Governor Cuomo was actually concerned about putting more money in the pockets of Empire State workers, he would advocate for Right to Work protections that would allow employees to keep the money they earn, rather than be forced to hand a portion of it over to union bosses as a condition of employment,” Semmens continued.
Cuomo has a close relationship with unions, which has reflected in his public policy. New York was the first state to implement a $15 minimum wage for public employees after a strong campaign by Cuomo and the Service Employees International Union.
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