On his weekly radio show this morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg discussed the city’s ongoing bus driver strike and waxed philosophical about the nature of public employee unions. And, while explaining the inherent challenges in cutting certain government services, the mayor made sure to extend empathic concern to those on the opposite side of the negotiating table.
“Municipal unions have always had great support from the legislators, whether they are city, state or even federal unions,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “You see the post office–which loses a fortune–they can’t cut back the number of post offices and workers. [This is] partially because every town wants to keep their post office, but partially because there are a lot of jobs involved. I’m sympathetic to people who want to keep their jobs.”
The Wheels on the Bus
Earlier this afternoon, Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a press conference announcing the city expects school bus driver strike later this week, possibly as soon as Wednesday. Although much of the details of the strike are still unknown–the union is holding their own press conference later this evening–Mr. Bloomberg repeatedly admonished the group, Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, while pointing to the city’s preparations to withstand the disruption.
“Should they decide to strike, it would necessarily jeopardize the education and safety of more than 150,000 students who take school buses every single day,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “In a year where students have already missed a week or more of school because of Hurricane Sandy, we certainly don’t need to make it more difficult to get to school. We have told the unions in unequivocal terms, ‘Do not walk out on our students.’”
have it your way
At several New York fast-food restaurants today, workers have walked off the job to protest what they feel are corporate efforts to stifle their unionization efforts. At locations like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Domino’s, Taco Bell across the city, workers are angling for higher wages in what they say is the first multi-restaurant fast-food strike in American history. And several of the leading candidates for mayor, all Democrats, want everyone to know they have the strikers’ back.
“I support New York’s fast-food workers’ demand for decent wages they can live on to support families, pay bills and put food on the table,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement. “Fast-food companies are some of the wealthiest in America, yet many of their employees earn far below the federal poverty level. These business practices are unacceptable. All working New Yorkers deserve a living wage and the opportunity to join the middle class. I am behind the city’s fast-food workers who are standing up for this right and fighting for fair pay and an economy that works for everyone.”
With the contract negotiations between Consolidated Edison Inc. and its largest New York union alternating between hot and cold, State Senator Greg Ball isn’t going to take it sitting down. Consequently, his office sent out a press release this morning entitled, “BALL TO CON ED: ‘GET IT DONE! CUT THE CRAP, CLOSE THE GAP.’”
Mr. Ball, a Republican from Westchester County, is particularly upset that the workers remain locked out of their jobs during the negotiations.
Continuing the statement’s tendency to stop just short of PG-13 language, Mr. Ball announced, “There is never a good time for Consolidated Edison workers to be on picket lines and that is especially so when it is as hot as Hades!”