September 10, 2013
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – New York City mayoral candidate Bill Thompson isn't guaranteeing labor unions languishing under Michael Bloomberg that he’ll give municipal workers raises if elected chief executive – but he is promising to heap tons of respect on them. (Watch Video)
“I’m a believer in unions,” Thompson said on the eve of Primary Day. “But at the same point, I am a strong believer in our municipal workforce. I believe that we have the finest municipal workforce in the country. I think [if elected] they would have someone in the job as mayor, for a change, who respects them, who appreciates the work that they do. Who would turn around and say, for a change, a word that they haven’t heard in years – thank you for the jobs that you do.”
Respect was something that was on the minds of lots of union leaders on Monday as they gathered at the steps of City Hall in support of the former comptroller's mayoral candidacy.
“It’s time that we have somebody in the Mayor’s Office who respects the rights of working people, that respects the rights of those that are actually moving this city, teaching this city, and making this city run,” UFT Director of Staff LeRoy Barr told LaborPress. “It doesn’t need to be a contentious relationship. We have a golden opportunity to make that happen.”
IBT Local 287 President Greg Floyd struck a similar theme.
“We’re looking for someone in City Hall that we can speak to,” Floyd said. “Someone who’s going to respect us. Someone who is going to appreciate the jobs that we are performing.”
UFT President Michael Mulgrew said that New York City is at a “major crossroads.”
“We all know what’s going on,” Mulgrew said. “Income inequality has grown to proportions that we have never seen before. If it continues to grow, this city will not succeed. So many people will be left behind. And ten years from now, we’ll be talking about how we missed a wonderful opportunity where there was a man who could have led this city in the right direction.”
Roy T. Richter, president of the Captains Endowment Association, said that he is looking forward to electing a new mayor who simply has the ability and willingness to listen.
“We’re looking for somebody who will be able to sit down at at a table and hear our opinions,” Richter said.
After traveling around the five boroughs campaigning with the candidate, Detectives Endowment Association President Michael J. Palladino stressed how Thompson’s inclusiveness has already been in stark contrast to the current mayor’s style.
“If you listen to Bill Thompson’s speech today, and when I campaigned with him in different boroughs of the city, he uses the word ‘we’ more than he uses the word ‘I,’” Palladino said. “That’s been missing from labor relations for the last four years. I think Bill will be a mayor for the people, by the people – and most importantly – with the people.”
Disregarding the polls that have Democratic rival Bill de Blasio squarely in the lead, Thompson – who came close to surprising Bloomberg in the 2009 mayoral race – entered Primary Day confident that – this time out – he’ll be victorious.
CWA Local 1182 President Robert Cassar shared the same confidence in a Thompson win – as well as gaining something a little more tangible than “respect.”
“He’s the man with the experience,” Cassar said. “He’s the guy that’s going to change the city. He’s the guy who’s going to get us a raise.”