Paterson’s Introduction to Labor Discontent

ALBANY—As David Paterson delivers his first State of the State address January 7, he'll witness something new: the first major labor rally against his policies.

The biggest unions in New York–CSEA, PEF, UUP, 1199 and the AFL-CIO–are arranging a march and rally expected to draw around 20,000, according to Stephen Madarasz, a spokesman for CSEA.

"The labor movement recognizes the urgency of the current fiscal crisis," said NYS AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes in a press release, which later says, "Budget cuts are not a cure all."

Madarasz said that union supporters took part in a rally outside the Capitol during the legislature's special session last week, but insisted that this will be a much larger crowd.

"The governor doesn't seem to be hearing us, at this point," Madarasz said in a brief phone interview, "and it seems with each governor we have to do this anew."

Unions last marched during a State of the State address in 2000, when George Pataki was governor.

Paterson asked unionized public employees to forgo a contractually scheduled three percent raise to save money. That proposal got a very cold reception from labor leaders, who also blocked mid-year cuts.