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The powerful New York State Public Employees’ Federation has launched an ambitious public awareness campaign aimed at fighting privatization and contracting out of their jobs.

New Yorkers: private consultants and contractors are lining their pockets while they’re picking yours,” warns one leaflet. Another urges the public to support a series of bills to restrict lobbyists from influencing the award of state contracts and require greater accountability and transparency from agencies that contract out services. “Help stop taxpayer abuse,” the flyer states.

One document lists the number of public sector jobs per state agency lost since 1995, when Governor George Pataki began drastically cutting the size of the state workforce. Pataki also imposed a hiring freeze, so many agencies turned to outside help instead.

This is a shell game that’s going on,” says Jeff Waggoner, a research analyst at the public employees’ federation, the state’s second-biggest union. The contract workers are often paid higher wages than the unionized public workers. They also get to attend conferences and training denied the government employees because of Pataki’s spending freeze.