Bloomberg: No Love for Labor?
January 28th, 2010
Labor, don’t expect a amicable third term with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
In his preliminary budget released this afternoon, the mayor has taken a hard line approach to labor, in what some see as a shift from his previous policies toward the city’s unions.
Call it hardball.
Bloomberg asked the United Federation of Teachers to take only 2 percent salary increases next year instead of 4 percent. According to the administration, the city would save $160 million in this year’s budget and $357 million in fiscal year 2011, which starts in July.
If the teacher’s union doesn’t bite, Bloomberg said the city could have 2,500 fewer educators come September.
“They have to decide what they want to protect. Have all of their members have a little bit of pain or 2,500 members lose their jobs?” the mayor said. “The bottom line is we don’t have any money.”
In addition, Bloomberg also warned other labor unions that they too would have to chip in more. Pointing to the more than 30 percent salary increases since 2002, Bloomberg said the city had not budgeted additional wage hikes in fiscal year 2011. He said any wage increase would have to be covered by productivity increases, savings in health insurance and by savings in pension costs. In line with that, the mayor again called for a fifth pension tier for new employees to help reduce pension costs, which have risen 357 percent since 1996.
Even with these labor concessions, if they happen, the city is still reducing its workforce. In the next fiscal year, 4,286 positions will be eliminated, 834 of which would be through layoffs. From attrition, fire fighters will be reduced by 400 and police officers will be down by 1,292.
The mayor also took aim at the state. For the first time, the city released a “contingency plan” full of additional cuts, including doing away with street cleaning, that would be proposed if Gov. David Paterson’s budget were approved as is.By Courtney Gross on January 28, 2010, 6:56 pm
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