There were three articles in the Daily News last week on possible union support for Mayor Bill de Blasio's reelection coming in 2017. In the initial pieces on Monday, Transportation Workers Union Local 100 leader John Samuelson led the charge against the mayor. Samuelson called the mayor "a situational progressive at best, and definitely not an ardent trade union supporter."
To my brothers and sisters in the labor movement, I say this: thoughtfully contemplate whether de Blasio really shares our trade union values before you give he mayor your stamp of approval. At Bill's core, it's all about Bill, not the trade unionist working families we represent.
In a related front page story, Samuelson is joined by Teamsters Local 237 (school safety agents union) head Gregory Floyd who accuses the mayor of backing his "deep pocketed supporters" over union interests. It is also no surprise that Patrolman's Benevolent Association head Patrick Lynch joined in because of de Blasio's inadequate labor contract imposed by arbitrators on the police.
The mayor certainly does have labor supporters who point to his rent freeze, mandatory paid leave policies and settled municipal labor contracts. Noticeably missing from last Monday's articles was UFT President Michael Mulgrew.
Never one to keep his mouth strategically closed, Mulgrew responded later and had his own feature article in Tuesday's News where of course he backed the mayor. Mulgrew's exact words on de Blasio:
He's done very well with us, and I think he's done a pretty good job with the city.
Mulgrew then goes on to insult our collective intelligence by saying it is up to the UFT Delegate Assembly, not him, to decide on an endorsement as if his Unity loyalty oath taking followers who dominate DA ever do anything the union leadership doesn't want.
The question I have for ICEBlog readers is this:
Does Mayor de Blasio deserve the UFT's unwavering support for reelection?
I would say the answer is no. The municipal pattern setting seven year contract we agreed to in 2014 contained 10% salary increases over seven years giving city workers the worst pattern raises since I became a teacher in the 1980s. Educators also have to wait to 2020 to be paid in full for work we did in 2009 while other city workers were paid back then. Meanwhile, the city is running huge budget surpluses.
In addition, there are healthcare givebacks and maybe just as significantly teaching and learning conditions in too many schools have not improved at all since de Blasio took office in 2014. Numerous schools have outrageously high class sizes; safety is non existent; kids are pushed along who have no business passing in order to get New York City's record graduation rate; excessive paperwork is out of control; and classroom observations are too often a nightmare. Promoting these policies are too many abusive principals and assistant principals who are making UFT member lives hell on a daily basis. The UFT"s response is usually low key and behind the scenes.
Is Mulgrew right that the mayor has been good to us or has not that not much, if anything, improved since de Blasio became mayor in 2014?