September 8, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—New York’s labor movement marched up 5th Avenue on Saturday to celebrate the nation’s Labor Day holiday, and they were joined by Governor Andrew Cuomo and his primary challenger Zephyr Teachout.
The primary election for state officials is Tuesday, September 9 so both Cuomo and Teachout, and their running mates Kathy Hochul and Tim Wu, respectively, vied for the New York labor movement’s attention.
In the accompanying video, we asked Governor Cuomo what he’d like to say to the working folk of New York.
“New York started the Labor Day parade back in 1882. It’s a great tradition. We celebrate organized labor; it’s one of the forces that really created the middle class, and it’s just a pleasure to be here,” said Cuomo.
As the parade moved up 5th Avenue, we had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Cuomo’s challenger, Zephyr Teachout. We asked her what was it like walking with New York’s labor movement.
“It feels great. I am a traditional Democratic. I am absolutely pro labor. I want to be a partner to labor. Andrew Cuomo has made labor his enemy. The AFL didn’t endorse him this year; that’s a pretty big rebuke. I have the endorsements of the Public Employees Federation because I am proud to stand with labor,” said Teachout.
We also asked if she was impressed with labor’s contribution to her candidacy.
“We have the Public Employees Federation, the Buffalo Teachers Federation, the Yonkers firefighters and rank and file members from around this state who have been the backbone of our campaign because they are fighting for the future of working New York, for a higher minimum wage and for the respect they deserve. I am so proud of what labor has done for our campaign,” Teachout said.
She then implored for working people to vote on September 9 if they want a governor who is friendly to labor.
Her running mate for Lt. Governor, Tim Wu, said he was proud to march with New York labor.
“We are in an age of unprecedented inequality in this country. The number one thing we need right now is to revitalize the labor movement and respect workers’ rights once and for all,” said Wu.
We then had the opportunity to speak with several labor leaders, including the president of the New York City Central Labor Council, Vincent Alvarez.
“Working people are working harder today than they ever worked before. We have to make sure that this year we stand up like we always have for higher wages, safe working conditions, adequate benefits [that have] with family-sustaining wages, good jobs, union jobs and we want to grow the middle class,” said Alvarez.
Julie Kushner, director of UAW Region 9A, said Saturday’s march was a great opportunity to show-off labor’s strength.
“This is a fantastic day. This is an opportunity for all of our members to showcase our unity and our movement,” said Kushner.
John Samuelsen, TWU Local 100’s president, said working people need to stick together this Labor Day.
“I’d like to say that working people need to stick together; there’s vested interests in this country that are trying to kill our families and we need to join together and unite like never before and fight for our rights to be ordinary, average Americans taking care of our families,” said Samuelsen.
And Michael Mulgrew, UFT’s president, said working folk are making a difference this year.
“It’s a great day today for labor. As you see the parade is bigger than it’s been in years and it’s because the workers in this city are really starting to say it’s time we can make a difference,” said Mulgrew.