NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Saturday praised those who died at the World Trade Center working for a living “to support their families,” but as he marched in the annual labor parade, union members said he’s not on their side.
“Now that he’s a lame duck, he doesn’t care about us,” said city government worker Cecelia McCarthy. The union member said she is afraid of more layoffs.
At the starting point late Saturday morning, the mayor, who is in his third and final term, emphasized the 10th anniversary of the trade center attack on Sept. 11, 2001.
“One of the things you can’t but think about today is 10 years ago, when we had this terrible tragedy, the anniversary of which is tomorrow,” Bloomberg said. “Remember, those who lost their lives were working for a living to support their families, and now, it’s our obligation to do that for them because they’re not here anymore.”
Thousands of union members marched in the parade laced with remembrances of the Sept. 11 attacks, but also with today’s economic realities.
“We feel very grateful that we have a union,” said Ruben Bartoja, 61, who has worked for more than three decades as a waiter at the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel on Central Park South. “Everyone feels that maybe one day, we might not have a job.”
Dressed in his uniform, he added, “I have to go.” He was headed back to work.
The parade started to the sound of bagpipes playing “America the Beautiful,” with the mayor noting that his city’s workers had helped New York recover from the attacks.
Hundreds of firefighters attended a pre-parade Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, celebrated by Roman Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan.
Truck driver and Teamsters union member Mark Vigilante recalled hauling debris from the trade center site after the attack.
“I saw an arrow pointed down that said `body’ — it was a firefighter found,” he said.
He was at ground zero when the remains of his friend, firefighter Thomas Kennedy of Manhattan’s Ladder Co. 101, were found.
About 800 members of Teamsters Local 282 — 44-year-old Vigilante is a member — drove trucks that hauled debris from the site.
“But life has to go on, we’ve got to move on,” said Vigilante.
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