The Tier VI pension vote last week may have caused CSEA, the state’s largest public employees’ union, to stop making campaign contributions to lawmakers, but it hasn’t slowed NYSUT—the state’s largest teachers’ union.
NYSUT doled out $25,000 today to the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee. It also gave $25,000 last Wednesday to Assembly Democrats, the same day that the Legislature voted to pass the changes to the state pension system, which creates less generous retirement benefits to new state workers.
Updated: The check to Senate Democrats appeared on the state Board of Election site today. The Assembly Democrats one was reported on Wednesday, the same day that the Legislature voted to pass the changes to the state pension system, which creates less generous retirement benefits to new state workers.
Many Assembly Democrats balked at the pension reforms, and it wouldn’t have passed the Democratic-led chamber without support from Assembly Republicans.
NYSUT spokesman Carl Korn said the checks were cut three to four weeks ago and the timing of the reporting on the state Board of Elections website is coincidental.
“We periodically make contributions to the Assembly and Senate,” Korn said. “It’s our way of participating in the political process. The answer to why we contributed is simple: They asked.”
Earlier in the day, NYSUT president Richard Iannuzzi said the union would make its own decision on whom to support in the November elections. Iannuzzi joined other unions leaders today at a rally to oppose the new pension tier.
In one move of protest, NYSUT and the United Federation of Teachers said they won’t participate in the Somos El Futuro conference in Albany.
Mario Cilento, president of AFL-CIO, said there’s been no decision from its member unions about whether to withhold support and money from candidates.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo took a swipe at CSEA for withholding its support because of one vote, suggesting there could be an illegal quid pro quo—something the unions scoffed at.
“Any union is free to support whoever they want or choose not to support,” Cuomo said this morning on Fred Dicker’s radio show. “However, if you are linking political contributions to a specific vote, you may get a call from the attorney general or the district attorney or JCOPE.”