Syracuse Labor Council

2017 Endorsement Questionnaire
(All fields required with asterisks*)


Full Name:* Howie Hawkins

Cell Phone:* 315-200-6046



Registration Address:* 410 W. Beard Ave., Syracuse NY 13205

Work Phone: No work phone

Work Address: UPS, 6975 Northern Blvd, East Syracuse, NY 13057


Headquarters Phone:* 315-474-7055

Headquarters Address:* 2617 S. Salina St., P.O. Box 562, Syracuse, NY 13205



(You must answer each question in this section to participate in the endorsement process)

  1. What office are you currently seeking? Mayor

  2. In what district are you running? City of Syracuse

  1. Are you the incumbent? No

  2. Which of the party lines are you seeking, if any? Green

5. Who are your opponents?

Democrats: Alphonso Davis, Mary Masterpole, Joe Nicolleti, Juanita Perez Williams

Republican: Laura Lavine

Democrat seeking Libertarian line: Chris Fowler

No Party seeking multiple lines: Ben Walsh


  1. Please list all organizations and individuals who have endorsed your candidacy. Green Party, Solidarity, International Socialist Organization, Socialist Party of Central New York

  2. What is your fundraising goal? $70,000

  3. Fundraising amount to date? $3,000

  1. Will you list the GSLC, AFL-CIO endorsement on all post-endorsement literature? Yes

  2. Would you agree to attend a GSLC monthly meeting to discuss labor with delegates? Yes

  3. Would you ensure that all literature is done by a union printer?( Yes

New York State Constitutional Convention

Every 20 years, the voters of New York State are asked "Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?" The next time this question will appear on the ballot is 2017. Although seemingly harmless, these 13 words, present the possibility of extreme harm to the well-being of your constituents. The State Constitution includes strong worker protections such as public pension safeguards, the right to collective bargaining, provisions regarding public works and prevailing rate, and language ensuring workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. The New York State AFL-CIO strongly opposes the convening of a Constitutional Convention because there is already a frequently used process in place to amend the constitution

GSLC 2017 Endorsement Questionnaire Page 1

via the legislature with ratification by the voters. A convention will only serve to jeopardize hardfought safeguards, while wasting millions upon millions of public tax dollars in the process.

  1. Will you publicly oppose a Constitutional Convention in 2017? No. See appended statement.


    1. Do you support workers’ right to organize? Yes

    2. Would you support and help workers organizing their workplace? Yes

    3. Have you supported workers in the past? Yes

    4. Would you help secure neutrality? Yes

    5. Would you support and help secure Labor Peace Agreements? Yes

    6. Would you support Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for all State, County and Municipal building/construction projects? Yes

  3. WAGES

    1. Would you support a Living Wage Ordinance for Onondaga County? Yes

    2. Do you support Prevailing Wage? Yes


a. Do you support fair and adequate funding for all school districts? Would you support bills that provide more funding for public education? Yes

b. Do you support strengthening public education? Yes

c. Do you support full day pre-kindergarten and full day kindergarten? Yes


a. Counties pay a percentage of Medicaid costs that have been capped by the State of NY. Counties also have the responsibility for Medicaid administration, enrolling people and administering certain benefits like personal care. Knowing that a majority of dollars that is spent by the County on healthcare gets reimbursed through State and Federal funding, would you support enrolling more people in Medicaid? Yes.

I support a New York State public single-payer health insurance plan providing all medically necessary services to all NewYork residents.


  1. Do you support expanding subsidies to families for child care? Yes

  2. Do you support preserving the Triborough amendment? Yes

  3. Do you support call center work for communications workers? Yes

  4. Do you support the need for FiOS build out in the city of Syracuse and surrounding areas? Yes

  5. Do you support Buy American legislation? No.

The working class is international. Economic nationalism and protectionism divide and weaken us and divert us from the fight for better wages, benefits, working conditions, and system change. “Buy American” is the policy of the corporations and Trump for their inter-corporate and international competition. It doesn’t protect or create good jobs.

We need fair trade agreements that raise labor and environmental standards across borders. The corporate-managed trade agreements (NAFTA, WTO, TPP, TTIP, etc.) are not primarily about lowering tariffs and promoting trade. They enhance corporate control of patents and intellectual property and create secretive and exclusive tribunals designed to overrule local, state, and national labor, consumer, and environmental protections. I oppose corporate-managed trade agreements. I support fair trade agreements that raise up workers across borders.

  1. Do you support the Governors’ tax freeze, which forces local governments and school districts to provide service without adequate monies? No

  2. Do you support consolidation of local government? Yes


I oppose the Consensus Report governance proposal.

It disempowers city residents by transferring city powers to a countywide metro government in which representatives of city residents would be a powerless minority under winner-take-all elections. The Consensus proposal inequitably mandates that the city dissolve, but for the towns dissolution is optional. The proposal burdens city residents with a “Debt District” to pay extra taxes for our segregated schools and the pensions of former city employees.

However, I support pursuing a democratic metropolitan government based on the principles of federalism and proportional representation.

We need a metropolitan government because it is the only way we can desegregate our schools and housing, which has concentrated poverty and isolated minorities and poor people from resources and opportunities in education, housing, employment, business, recreation, and culture. Desegregation requires a metropolitan-wide school district and metro-wide housing desegregation policies such as inclusionary zoning, ending source of income discrimination (such as Section 8 vouchers) for tenants, and enforcing other fair housing laws.

A metropolitan government is also needed to enforce a land use plan to protect green spaces and stop suburban sprawl, which is intimately connected to urban disinvestment and decay. Because land use planning is vested in municipalities in New York State, we need a metropolitan municipality in order to have an enforceable land use plan.

We need a federal model of metropolitan government because both city and town residents want, and should retain, certain powers, such as making local zoning, planning, and permitting decisions within the framework of a countywide land use plan.

We need proportional representation in the metro legislative body – and instant runoff voting for executive offices – so that city residents are not reduced to a permanent and powerless political minority that would become entrenched by winner-take-all elections in the Consensus proposal, where a suburban and rural majority would have all the effective power.

Under proportional representation, each political perspective would get its fair share of power and representation. No political perspective would be without its representatives. Proportional representation would yield a multi-party system where coalitions that shift across different issues would have to be built by negotiation in order to build majority support for legislation, in contrast to the two-party system where the majority party disregards the minority party and rams its legislation through.

Additional comments:

On State Constitutional Convention:

I feel the concern for losing public pension guarantees and other workers’ rights. Cuts to my Teamsters pension are before the U.S. Treasury Department thanks to the 2014 Multi-Employer Pension Act that removed ERISA’s protection of my earned pension. That bipartisan voice vote amendment to the 2014 Omnibus Spending Bill to keep the government operating was made by a founding member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, George Miller (D-CA). The legislators we’ve got are not protecting workers.

New York’s public pensions have been repeatedly reduced by legislation, with the latest 6th Tier incentivizing the choice of a defined-contribution plan, which renders the state pension guarantee irrelevant. We are more at risk from legislation to cut worker protections – e.g., the support of the New York Conference of Mayors, including Mayor Miner, for repealing the Triborough Amendment.

Since 2000, some 44 state elected officials have been forced out of office for criminal convictions or other ethical violations. 29 were convicted of crimes and 21 were sentenced to prison or house arrest. More officials charged with crimes are currently headed for trial. The ethics laws in the state are a joke and the legislature and governor are not serious about making them serious.

It is therefore no surprise that the state government cannot enact reforms that the vast majority of New Yorkers support, including:

  • The right to health care through a public health insurance program.

  • The right to affordable higher education.

  • Equitable and adequate public school funding.

  • An Environmental Bill of Rights to guarantee clean air and water.

  • An Equal Rights Amendment to guarantee equality for women.

  • Protection from discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation (the state’s equal protection clause only covers for race, color, creed, and religion)

  • The right to substance abuse treatment instead of prison for addicts.

  • Ethics Reform

  • Public Campaign Finance

  • Electoral reforms like same-day registration, Election Day holiday, independent redistricting, and proportional representation.

  • Municipal home rule on income taxes, rent control, school governance, and minimum wages.

  • State financial responsibility for its mandates on local governments

Labor should ally with the movements pushing these reforms.

A state constitutional convention gives labor an organizing opportunity to build support for these reforms, bypass the corruption and ineptitude in Albany, and make the reforms the majority of people want.

This approach is safer than relying on the legislature and governor because the people themselves will directly approve or reject proposed constitutional amendments in referendum votes. I am confident that the people of New York state will not approve amendments that remove any of the civil liberties, civil rights, and labor rights in the current state constitution.

The people are way ahead of the politicians on expanding our social, political, and economic rights. It is the politicians entrenched in office by a corrupt system in need of basic reforms who are holding us back. The best defense against these politicians is an offense, not holding on to the status quo in fear and relying on bought politicians who are already eroding workers’ rights.


Howie Hawkins has been an organizer for peace, justice, labor, the environment, and independent politics since 1967 when he got active in "The Movement" as a teenager in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Since moving to Syracuse in 1991, he has lived on the South Side where he has been active in the community on many issues. He is currently a Board member and the Treasurer for the Eat To Live Food Cooperative and for the Southside Community Coalition.

Howie works at UPS unloading trucks, where he is a member of Teamsters Local 317, He is also a supporter of Teamsters for a Democratic Union, US Labor Against the War, the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare, and the Labor Notes network.

A former Marine, he helped organize opposition to the Vietnam War. In the 1970s and 1980s, he was a leader in the anti-apartheid divestment movement to end US corporate investment in the system of racist labor exploitation in South Africa.

After attending Dartmouth College in the early 1970s, Howie worked in construction and helped organize a workers cooperative that specialized in energy efficiency and solar and wind installations.

He was a co-founder of the anti-nuclear Clamshell Alliance in 1976 and the Green Party in the US in 1984.

Howie moved to Syracuse to develop cooperatives for CommonWorks, a federation of cooperatives that worked in the 1990s for a local economy that is cooperatively owned, democratically controlled, and ecologically sustainable.

Howie was active in the campaigns to establish the Citizens Review Board in the 1990s and the Living Wage Ordinance in the 2000s.

As the Syracuse Green Party's candidate for Mayor in 2005, Howie's campaign succeeded in putting public power – a city-owned power utility – on the city's agenda.

Howie has been a Green Party candidate for Common Council, Congress, U.S. Senator, and City Auditor. His vote has grown from 3% for Councilor At-Large in 1993 to a near win in 2011 with 48% of the vote for 4th District Common Councilor. In 2015, he received 35% of the citywide vote for City Auditor.

As the New York Green Party's candidate for Governor in 2010 and 2014, he campaigned for a ban on fracking, 100% clean energy by 2030, a $15 minimum wage, an end to Governor Cuomo's test-punish-and-privatize education agenda, and for progressive taxes and revenue sharing as the alternative to Cuomo's austerity budgets for schools, cities, and public services. In 2014, he received 5 percent of the vote, the most for an independent progressive party candidate for Governor in New York history except the 5.7% in 1918 and 5.6% in 1920 received by the Socialist Party candidates.

When the Socialist Party of Eugene Debs, A. Philip Randolph, Helen Keller, and Norman Thomas re-established itself in 1973, Howie joined and remains a member. He is also a member of Solidarity, a democratic socialist organization that stands for "socialism from below," the self-organization of the working class and oppressed peoples.

Howie's articles on politics, economics, and environmental issues have appeared in Against the Current, CounterPunch, Green Politics, International Socialist Review, Labor Notes, New Politics, Peace and Democracy News, Popular Resistance, Roll Call, Society and Nature, Z Magazine, and other publications. He is the editor of and a contributor to Independent Politics: The Green Party Strategy Debate (Haymarket Books, 2006).



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Howie Hawkins is the 2017 Green candidate for Syracuse Mayor
Hawkins for Mayor