Cynthia Nixon Starts Campaign For Governor by Attacking Unions
In just the first week of her campaign, she is demanding givebacks from subway, construction and film unions
On March 19th actress Cynthia Nixon announced that she would be running for Governor in the Democratic Primary against Andrew Cuomo. Being a celebrity, she garnered a lot of attention. While she is expected to run on a “progressive” platform, her initial comments attacking union workers prove that she is just not ready for prime time.
In just one week, Nixon somehow started a fight with union members working on the subway as well as those working in the film industry. The multi-millionaire actress said “The unions have to understand … with the deals that they have now, you can’t hope to make improvements to the trains in a fiscally responsible way. Everybody’s got to pull together, and everybody’s got to make sacrifices.” She felt that the $3.5 Billion cost was too much, instead saying without evidence to back it up, that the project should only cost half a billion dollars per mile. She then said that if she is elected she will seek to renegotiate the contract saying, “Everybody’s got to pull together, and everybody’s got to make sacrifices.” However, it seems like the only people who are being asked to make sacrifices are the union workforce.
Within hours the response was swift. “Cynthia Nixon announced her candidacy for governor and within one week she blamed workers for subway problems,” said John Samuelson, International President of the Transport Workers Union (TWU). “She’s yet another phony progressive embracing the billionaire real estate developers’ anti-trade union mantra. Cynthia Nixon has no knowledge of what it takes to fix the commutes of millions of New Yorkers. Her first instinct was to attack New York’s unions and is a scary indicator that she is out of touch with ordinary average New Yorkers and has set red flags off all over the city. She is a wealthy celebrity completely disconnected from the very workers she claims to care about.”
Then in response to a question about the state’s film tax credit, Nixon replied that she didn’t feel it was justified. “I don’t think there’s any real truth that that enormous expenditure of money is making a significant enough difference in production to justify it.’’ She added that the more than $420 million annual tax break the industry receives “doesn’t merit the investment.”
IATSE Local 52, which represents tens of thousands of employees who work behind the scenes said that before the tax credit very few shows or movies filmed in New York, but now they are clamoring to film in New York. They also note that it isn’t only in New York City, but other areas like Buffalo have seen tremendous growth in their film industry. “I am concerned that Ms. Nixon chose to speak out on an issue that affects the livelihood of tens of thousands of technicians, vendors, and supplemental businesses that live and pay taxes in New York without, as it appears to me, doing any serious research on the matter,” said IATSE Local 52 President and Business Manager John Ford. Teamsters Local 817 President Tom O’Donnell also said that a program that generates billions in wages and hundreds of thousands of jobs deserves merit.
After her comments, it was revealed that her show, Sex in the City, had received $13.6 million in tax cuts and subsidies for filming in New York. Although unions do not seem to agree with her assessment, she is getting support from the anti-union Empire Policy Center.
"Over the past few days, a troubling pattern has emerged in Cynthia Nixon’s gubernatorial campaign. She has not once, but twice shown an alarming disregard for working men and women,” said New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento. “First, Ms. Nixon undermined a program that has helped thousands of workers, calling the film industry tax incentives unnecessary. Second, she is now blaming transit and construction workers for subway repair costs. Instead of attacking unions and the contracts they negotiated in good faith with their employers, Ms. Nixon should recognize the contributions of a highly trained and skilled workforce. It is astounding at just how misguided and uninformed Ms. Nixon is on the vital role working men and women play in the economic and social well-being of our great state."