August 2, 2013
Bill Thompson, the teachers union’s preferred pick for mayor, said today that he owes no favors to the unions that endorsed him and criticized mayoral rival Bill de Blasio for suggesting otherwise.
De Blasio said yesterday that, like Mayor Bloomberg, he has his “own independence” from the city’s labor unions since he has failed to secure their support during the Democratic primary race. De Blasio suggested that as a result, he’d be more equipped to negotiate with those unions, all of which are without contracts and demanding retroactive raises. Full back pay for teachers would cost $3 billion.
“I am unburdened by the support of the municipal labor unions,” de Blasio said.
This afternoon Thompson, whose campaign didn’t immediately respond to the comments, issued a statement.
“I saw Mr. de Blasio’s comments yesterday, and I have to say we have a very different view of what leadership and governing and standing up for working people is all about,” Thompson said. “Apparently he is now finally free to govern independently because he didn’t get the union endorsements he campaigned for with such intensity.”
De Blasio has at least twice this week brought up the fiscal challenges facing New York City when a new mayor takes over. Despite positioning himself as a labor candidate early on, he’s stressed the need for restraint when discussing labor contracts, though he’s indicated that back pay would be on the table.
“I am a progressive, but I can count,” de Blasio said earlier this week at an arts forum. “I’d like to be honest with people about the fact that we have a very serious problem the next few years.”
Thompson has declined to say publicly whether he would award back pay, repeatedly telling reporters that he does not negotiate in public. In his statement today, he alluded generally to the contracts. ”City workers are going to be respected — and city taxpayers are going to be protected,” Thompson said. “That’s a promise I make to the unions campaigning against me just as much as it is to the unions that support me.”
AFT President Randi Weingarten, who is also supporting Thompson,criticized de Blasio as well on Friday in a Tweet.
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) August 2, 2013