About 100 New York City union members and supporters have "occupied" a space around City Hall to protest budget cuts instituted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Doug Singsen, City College professor and one of the founders of New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts, writes:
The first night of Bloombergville was great! After it stopped raining (and the cops started harassing us), we moved across the street and set up camp on Centre Street east of City Hall. There are around 100 of us here, the weather is perfect and it's been an exciting, inspiring night.But we're not done! Some of us will be staying here during the day to maintain the encampment and we will be re-assembling in full force at 7 pm to have a speakout rally and another night of sleeping out and protesting the budget cuts. We need your help to make it even bigger and better! The Rude Mechanical Orchestra will be here and will provide some musical entertainment for us. Even if you can't sleep over, come down for the rally, tell your friends and help us build the struggle against budget cuts.
More background on the protests and occupation can be found here.
Like other unions , District 37 members are facing massive layoffs and wage and benefit cuts under the austerity craze sweeping the nation. Bloomberg's plans include firing 4100 city workers and closing a quarter of the city's fire houses. Protesters cite a union research report that claims the city could soften the blow by tapping more than $800 million in newly-identified potential revenue sources, including uncollected taxes.
New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts also point to the elimination of the state's so-called Millionaires' Tax on Wall Street as another main reason for the manufactured budget shortfall. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, recently polled as being more popular with Republicans than among members of his own party. Even Carl Palladino, his GOP opponent, has praised the governor as being a true friend to fiscal conservatives and the Tea Party.