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Union Showdown Looms For Next Mayor

Labor Bosses Call For Retroactive Raises
Joe Lhota campaigns in Manhattan on Sept. 5, 2013. (credit: Paul Murnane/WCBS 880)

Joe Lhota campaigns in Manhattan on Sept. 5, 2013. (credit: Paul Murnane/WCBS 880)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — With nearly 300,000 city employees working under expired labor contracts for years, New York’s next mayor knows a showdown with unions is looming large.

Many unions that could not strike a deal with Mayor Michael Bloomberg want the city’s next leader to implement retroactive pay raises, which could cost taxpayers up to $7 billion.

Republican Joe Lhota told WCBS 880′s Paul Murnane that if he were elected, he would want to sit down with union leaders within two days of the election. He has ruled out raising taxes and says the city can’t afford the hefty price tag that accompanies retroactive pay hikes.

“That doesn’t mean that we can’t structure a deal going forward that has different amounts of payments upfront and lower amounts on the back end,” the former MTA chief said during a campaign event Thursday morning at Hunter College. “It all depends on how long the contract is going to be. It all depends on what the city can afford to pay.”

At a campaign stop Wednesday, Democrat Bill Thompson said raises can be paid for in part by outsourcing some city services.

“Bring those dollars back in-house,” the former city comptroller said. “Look across the rest of our city administration. Where’s the additional waste?”

Mike Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, told Murnane that educators are looking for “fairness. That’s what we ask for — fairness. Teachers deserve a raise.”

During the final Democratic TV debate Tuesday, Bill De Blasio, who is leading his party rivals in the polls, said he’d strike new deals but can’t promise retroactive raises. Other candidates refused to offer up any specifics, insisting they wouldn’t negotiate through the media.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)