Public Sector Workers in NYC Fight for Higher Wages

June 15 , 2004

During the second week of June, 100,000 public sector workers in New York City organized mass actions and strikes to demand improved wages and benefits.

- - 23,000 home health aides, members of Local 1199/SEIU, waged a 3-day strike to demand a wage increase from $7/hour to $10/hour over 3 years as well as certain elementary rights to health coverage, vacations, etc. The home health aides are employed by 11 private agencies which are funded by federal, state and local governments.

After the first day of the strike, the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, the largest agency, agreed to the union's main demands, including the $10/hour wage demand. Tentative contracts have also been reached with 3 other agencies, employing another 12,000 workers. The union is prepared to strike again against any holdout agencies after another 30-day bargaining period.

- - On June 8, 60,000 teachers, firefighters and police held a huge downtown rally to demand increased wages.

- - 7,000 day care workers went on strike for 3 days. The workers have been without a contract since April 2000 and without a raise since December 2000.

Similar problems are confronting public workers across the country. While the military contractors and other capitalists rob the public treasury, the government keeps screaming that it has "no money" to fund vital services and pay public workers. Thus public workers have no choice but to come out in struggles to defend their wages and livelihoods. These struggles demand the support of all the working people.