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Big Labor Is Frustrated With NYC Mayor de Blasio

Hillary Clinton and Bill de Blasio appear at "Inner Circle Show." April 9, 2016. (Youtube screen grab)

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Ted Goodman Contributor
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Union leaders in the Big Apple are growing restless with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 President John Samuelsen asked his members to “contemplate whether de Blasio really shares our trade union values,” in a Sunday column published in the New York Daily News. Samuelsen did not hold back on his feelings towards the mayor, writing that, “At Bill’s core, it’s all about Bill, not the trade unionist working families we represent.”

Samuelson, who heads the 42,000-member TWU Local 100 union, warned union members that de Blasio may not be as labor-friendly as he portrays himself to be. Mayor de Blasio angers union leaders on issues like the prevailing wage or his fixation on banning horse-drawn carriages in Central Park.

The mayor did not receive the support of big labor when he launched his longshot mayoral primary campaign in 2013, but the labor movement lined up behind him for the general election. Samuelsen and the TWU are not the only ones frustrated with de Blasio.

Gregory Floyd, president of Teamsters Local 237, which represents 24,000 members, said that de Blasio sides with “deep-pocketed supporters” and his allies in the “progressive movement” over union interests. “If there’s a conflict, he’d go to the donor,” Floyd told the New York Daily News.

Trade unions in the construction industry are fighting with de Blasio over the implementation of a mandate requiring that builders of affordable housing projects pay union-level prevailing wages to on-site workers. The mayor pushes back on any such mandate, reasoning that it would be too expensive and would hamper efforts to build additional affordable housing in the city.

Additionally, police unions voice their frustration with the mayor, complaining about the mayor’s reaction to the recent fatal shooting of a 66-year old, black woman in the Bronx. The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which represents 24,000 members, are not happy with a new contract offer from the city, which included raises that many members felt were too low.

Despite the frustrations, many union leaders still see de Blasio as a pro-union mayor and will likely support his 2017 reelection campaign. “The city hasn’t had a pro-union mayor in more than 20 years,” said Bob Master with Communications Workers of America.

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