July 4, 2013
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Bill Thompson picked up yet another union endorsement for mayor, one day after being endorsed by the Transport Workers Union Local 100. At City Hall on Wednesday, the uniform traffic and sanitation agents of the Communication Workers Union Local 1182 endorsed Mr. Thompson. Watch Video
Local 1182’s endorsement adds to Mr. Thompson’s growing list of organized labor endorsements, which includes the United Federation of Teachers, United Uniformed Workers of New York (a coalition of Port Authority, NYPD and court officers), International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 237 and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators.
Robert Cassar, president of the 3,000-member union local, said it was an easy decision for the union’s executive board to endorse Mr. Thompson because they believe he will better understand and address the needs of working New Yorkers.
“We endorsed Mr. Thompson because he’s a community guy from Bedford-Stuyvesant; he came from a working-class background. We just felt that this was the gentleman who would understand the working people of the city of New York,” said Cassar.
The traffic agents are responsible for operating tow trucks, directing cars and traffic and writing parking tickets, job aspects that typically incur the wrath of everyday New Yorkers. It is not unusual for traffic agents, while standing on a painted center lane separating traffic, to withstand insults, threats and sometimes assaults from enraged drivers.
The crime for assaulting a traffic agent used to be a misdemeanor with a one-year maximum prison sentence. However, after CWA 1182 lobbied for legislation that would protect traffic agents from assaults, former governor David A. Paterson signed a change in the penal law in 2008 that put traffic agents in the same category as police officers and made assaulting a traffic agent a felony.
While Mr. Thompson has said that he is willing to open the city’s books to review with union leaders to determine fair pay raises for city employees working without contracts for several years, he has not committed to retroactive pay.
When asked if he was concerned about Mr. Thompson’s position on retroactive pay, Mr. Cassar said that the union understands that retroactive pay might not be forthcoming.
“We understand there may be a problem with retroactive raises. But the fact that this candidate is willing to consider to give these workers raises is something we rate very high,” said Cassar.
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