Ten major labor unions in New York, including the state AFL-CIO, are pushing for a tax increase on the highest earners in New York as the state faces a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall. 

The push for more revenue by increasing taxes on billionaires and "ultramillionaires" comes as the economic crisis could lead to cuts for health care, schools and local governments in New York without significant federal aid.

“It is encouraging that legislators are considering returning to session this month to ask the wealthiest New Yorkers to do their fair share to address the deep state budget crisis brought on by the pandemic," the labor unions wrote in the joint statemen.

"But now is definitely the time for bold action. Without billions of dollars in additional revenues, there will be disastrous cuts in schools, health care, and public services — and not nearly enough funds to bail out those devastated by the pandemic — renters, small landlords, small business owners, restaurant owners."

The unions, which include labor groups representing teachers, college and university workers, nurses, autoworkers, and retail workers, represent some of the most politically active organizations in the New York.

The groups are making the push as some lawmakers have raised the possibility of a session of the Legislature as early as this month. But top lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly are in disagreement over the timing of a vote and the negotiations remain in the very early stages.  

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has urged lawmakers to wait until early next year to consider crafting a tax plan for the state budget in order to determine how much New York may receive from the federal government with a new stimulus measure. Cuomo is seeking $15 billion in aid from Congress.

But the push to raise taxes in New York is likely not a matter of if, but when. The labor leaders are setting a target of at least $7 billion to $9 billion in new revenue from a tax increase.

“The stock market has soared in 2020 despite the pandemic, and the gap between rich and poor continues to grow. The impact of the pandemic has fallen most heavily on poor and working New Yorkers, especially communities of color," they said. "Our leaders must ask the richest New Yorkers to truly step up to the plate."