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Thousands of union workers rallied yesterday at City Hall Park to demonstrate their frustration over the lack of contract negotiations between Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration and city employees.

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"The people united will not be defeated," unionized teachers, firefighters, sanitation workers and police officers continuously chanted, their words echoing through the park as giant screens showed images of the protest.

The rally, coordinated by the Municipal Labor Committee, was touted by organizers as a vigorous response to Bloomberg's decision to allow city unions' contracts to expire, leaving over 300,000 employees without labor agreements.

Bloomberg presented his final $70 billion budget plan in early May, which marks his 12th budget in his 11-and-a-half years in office. Under the proposal, 20 fire companies would be closed and $135 million cut from afterschool and early-childhood education programs.

The budget also has no money allocated for city employees' backpay in case renegotiating contracts results in salary increases. The cumulative price of paying the city's workforce retroactively could be over $7 billion.

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Partner MetroFocus sat down with former New York City Mayor Ed Koch to get his thoughts on Superstorm Sandy, his legacy and next year's election for mayor.

Koch, who remarked that part of his legacy was having lead the city to oppose the strike by transit workers in the 1980s, told the television show he is concerned about the undue influence of unions on the candidates for mayor.

"Before me it was a radical left-wing town that was being destroyed by the municipal unions and their demands for pensions and wages and so forth, and they brought us to the edge of bankruptcy," he told host Rafael Pi Roman. "Now we're a tower of strength again, but I worry about the impact of those same unions who are now making demands on all the candidates who are running."

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