We write with an almost overwhelming sense of disgust and anger.

Yesterday, Governor Pataki vetoed the minimum-wage bill. To say this caught us by surprise is an understatement. The political class had confidently and uniformly predicted that he would sign the bill.

But perhaps we shouldn't be shocked.

This is a governor with a history of unbridled hostility to funding schools attended by poor children. This is a governor whose recent budget proposals once again slash benefits for the weak and powerless, even as he curries favor with the powerful. Vetoing the minimum-wage merely expands the range of people who can feel the Pataki lash.

The reasons given in his veto message are laughable and often factually wrong. You can read it on our web site.

Whatever his written statement, the real reason for his veto is politics. Pataki is playing to the national Republicans and the local Conservatives, and what better way to make yourself known as a tough-guy than to really stick it to low-wage workers. Plus he did it on a day Kerry’s speech, Yankees’ new stadium, MTA fare hike announcement when it was guaranteed to get relatively little notice. A real profile in cowardice.

So, we're pissed. And the only thing to do in such a situation is organize.

The battle now is to win an override. A two-thirds majority is needed in both the Senate and Assembly. The bill passed with votes to spare in both, but this will not be easy, especially in the Senate.

Here's the math. 51 senators voted “Yes” last week for the bill. We need to hold 42 for an override. And Majority Leader Bruno must actually schedule a vote that would, no doubt, be seen as an embarrassment to the governor -- -- and of course the Governor’s feelings are more relevant than the needs of one million low-wage employees.

It will take several days to figure out what’s really happening in Albany. But in the short term PLEASE send an e-mail or letter TODAY to Majority Leader Bruno urging him to do the right thing for the second time and override the veto. It’s not much more complicated than that. They tally the e-mails and letters they get, so this is valuable.

His email:

You can blind copy

If you prefer to mail or fax: Sen. Joseph Bruno, 909 LOB, Albany NY 12247 or fax: 518-455-2448.

Do that right now. Please.

Whatever it takes -- more door-to-door slogging in individual districts, phone-in days to the Senate, civil disobedience, a relay march to Albany, you name it -- we know one thing for sure. We'll need the help of every single person reading (and forwarding!) this message.

The final word for now goes to Russell Chamberlain, a night-shift bartender from Portville NY who wrote the following message on the WFP’s on-line message board to the governor.

“It must be easy for you to sit at your desk in Albany and declare that you will not support a raise in the minimum. I know that you are the governor of New York State, and perhaps deserve to receive a higher pay than I do. However, I do not think that I should have to count quarters and hope that I have enough to purchase milk at the store for my family. We recently had to borrow $20 from a friend in order to purchase bread, eggs, cheese…I really hope that you reconsider your stance.”

Pataki won’t reconsider. But the Legislature must.


That's it. We'll keep you posted. As always, if you haven't financially supported the WFP lately, please do so.

We cannot fight this battle without a little bit of money from a lot of different people. Click and become a monthly sustainer or one-time giver.

Thanks. Never give up.

Jim Duncan, Bertha Lewis, and Bob Master
WFP Co-Chairs

Dan Cantor
WFP Executive Director