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Union leaders address ‘poor word choices’ in Cuomo name calling

ALBANY _ Two union presidents said  “poor word choices” at a rally in which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was called a monkey diverted attention from the message by organized labor.

On Wednesday a rally of several public employee unions in Albany included name-calling of the governor from the podium as leaders criticized Cuomo’s budget. Cuomo wants to close some prisons and some health facilities to save state money and to make the systems run for more efficiently.

On Friday, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and New York State Public Employees Federation President Susan Kent issued a statement.

“The poor word choices, which resulted from the passion expressed by some, diverted the attention away from the legitimate concerns of the more than 500 hardworking mental health workers, correctional officers, care givers for developmentally disabled individuals, administrative personnel and others who attended the rally to call for substantive dialogue with the governor,” the union leaders said in a joint statement.

At Wednesday’s rally, Civil Service Employees Association President Danny Donohue mocked Cuomo’s economic development slogan of “New York, Open for Business.”

"It's monkey business!" Donohue countered on Wednesday to cheers. "And the son of Mario Cuomo is the biggest monkey."

A union spokesman later said the passion of the statements weren't important. Instead, he said the pain that Cuomo's cuts would inflict on union families and on New Yorkers was the important point of the rally.

“Union leadership in New York isn’t what it used to be,” said Larry Schwartz, secretary to the governor.

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