NY Sun: July 26, 2002
McCall Wants Benefits Extended
By MICHAEL NEEDHAM Special to the Sun
Democratic gubernatorial candidate H. Carl McCall joined 50 jobless
New Yorkers yesterday to demand that Governor Pataki support a 13-week
extension of unemployment benefits.
Unemployment benefits are normally available for only 26 weeks, but Congress
extended the benefits last March for 13 weeks in an effort to help workers
who had lost their jobs around September 11.
More than 100,000 New Yorkers will run out of all of their unemployment
benefits without finding jobs, the New York Unemployment Project estimated.
Mr. McCall blamed Mr. Pataki for not applying pressure on the State Senate
to approve an Assembly-passed bill that would have extended the unemployment
He told the protesters the state has "an obligation…to provide the
employment benefits so that you can take care of your families until you find
Mr. Pataki’s campaign manager, Adam Stoll, said the governor hopes New
York’s congressional delegation will get federal legislation passed. "Carl
McCall should stop his partisan attacks and work with our bipartisan delegation
in Washington to get this done," Mr. Stoll said.
Senator Clinton introduced legislation July 10 aimed at extending federal
unemployment benefits a second time.
Most of the protesters did not care whether the federal or state government
gave them the unemployment benefits.
"I have a wife and two kids. I desperately want to work, but without this
extension I don’t know how my family and I will survive," said Mohammed
Fruitwala, who lost his job at Restaurant Associates in the World Financial Center
on September 11. "Unemployed workers will not forget that when push came
to shove, Governor Pataki chose to shove our families into poverty."
A spokesman for Mr. Pataki, Joe Conway, said the governor is seeking
action on the federal level.
Mr. McCall also criticized Mr. Pataki for not having put away more money over
the last seven years. Mr. McCall said he told the governor more money should
be put into reserves, but Mr. Pataki failed to listen.
"That’s pure, politically partisan nonsense," Mr. Conway said. "The
governor…helped the state prepare for difficult times by building up the
state’s rainy day reserve funds to the highest levels in state history.
As a result, even in the wake of September 11 and the national economic downturn,
New York has been able to avoid the thousands of layoffs, massive tax hikes,
and huge budget cuts…that most other states in the country are now facing."
Shortly after Mr. McCall left the protest, Victor Severino, who worked at Windows
on the World atop the World Trade Center before September 11, tried to deliver
1,000 signed petitions to Mr. Pataki’s New York campaign office. Security
guards barred the door.
The protesters grew angry and started screaming outside the doors of the building — making
it difficult for employees to get through the doors. In a couple of instances,
angry workers shoved protesters out of the way in order to exit the building.
"This makes me very angry. We are not violent, we just want to give these
letters to him," Mr. Severino said as protesters yelled "don’t
ignore the unemployed" behind him.
After a few minutes, a Pataki campaign staff member came down and took the
letters from the protest organizers.