May 14, 2015
By Marc Bussanich
Bronx, NY—Mayor Bill de Blasio is getting slammed again, this time for traveling across the country to promote a progressive agenda. Norman Seabrook of the correction officers’ union said he doesn’t have anything against a progressive agenda, but that the Mayor has issues to resolve first at home.
The media once again is taking de Blasio to task. In fact, the New York Daily News printed a story on Tuesday saying that all hell was breaking loose in the City, as there was an uptick in crime as the Mayor travelled to Washington, D.C. and California.
The Mayor has been saying that income inequality isn’t only an issue in the city, but around the country. He was in the nation’s capital this week to call on Congress to finally pass a multi-year surface transportation bill. But one day after a tragic Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia, Congress decided to slash funding for Amtrak.
The Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. honored organized labor on Thursday morning where Mr. Seabrook was in attendance. In the accompanying video interview, we asked him why he was critical of de Blasio’s out-of-state travels.
“I think that it’s important that if we are celebrating labor and the work that labor does, then the progressive agenda should be progressive here as well. We should be doing things here for the men and women in labor, so that we can move forward. I understand what he’s doing. But take care of home first. Let’s do what we’re supposed to do right here, right now,” said Seabrook.
We asked him isn’t it necessary for the Mayor to promote a progressive agenda around, for example, infrastructure spending outside New York as many parts of the country, politically, has lurched rightward.
“That’s why we have Senator [Charles] Schumer and Senator [Kirsten] Gillibrand because they handle the infrastructure [issues]. They’re the ones who are going to bring back the federal funding. But we have other issues here besides infrastructure. We have men and women who are unemployed and we have children who are homeless. We gotta do better for New York,” Seabrook said.
We then asked what issue is most important to him and his members. As expected, he noted the low disability payments some of his members receive should they get hurt on the job. Yesterday, the Mayor announced in a statement that he would be proposing a change in the disability benefits for uniformed employees that “will dramatically increase the support these City workers receive if they are disabled on the job.”
But just as the Police Benevolent Association and the Uniformed Firefighters Association announced in a joint statement in response that the change is unacceptable and leaves in place a two-tiered disability structure, Seabrook also criticized the change.
“Don’t just give us a watered-down version of a three-quarter disability bill when the men and women who wear the uniform put their lives on the line every single day to protect the public. I agree with them [PBA and UFA] 100 percent that it’s not enough. We need to go back to where we were and we need to do better,” said Seabrook.