NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s the battle of the mayors.
Michael Bloomberg has offered an unprecedented challenge to his successor to slash union benefits — for the good of the city — even if it means he doesn’t get re-elected.
As CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported Wednesday, hizzoner’s meddling didn’t go well with the mayor-elect.
Mayors usually go quietly at the end of their term, but not so with Bloomberg. On Wednesday, he told incoming Bill de Blasio he will have a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to slash union health and pension benefits — and that he should ignore his own political allegiances and ambitions to do it.
“The future that most elected officials worry about is their own. Wining election — or reelection — is the goal around which everything else revolves. But we cannot afford for our elected officials to put their own futures ahead of the next generation’s and to continue perpetuating a labor-electoral complex that is undermining our collective future,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg said de Blasio now has leverage to get public unions to kick in for their own benefits, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.
Kramer asked the mayor-elect if he felt pressure to take Bloomberg’s advice.
“As you can see, Marcia, the pressure’s overwhelming,” de Blasio said.
De Blasio icily pointed out that Bloomberg is leaving him with the makings of a fiscal crisis. Bloomberg’s relationships with the unions were so unproductive in his third term that he reached no labor settlements with any of the city’s unions — and there are 152 of them.
“That’s never happened before. No previous mayor ever let that happen. We’re talking about a lot of different mayors, a lot of different ideologies and approaches, but no mayor ever let that happen before,” de Blasio said.
“I caution that one should be careful about giving advice from that perspective,” he added.
Bloomberg claimed he isn’t leaving a budget hole at all, saying there’s enough money to give the unions 1.25 percent raises.
“We are leaving behind money to pay for the same type of labor contract Gov. Cuomo signed with labor unions in 2011 and which our unions have refused to sign,” Bloomberg said.
De Blasio won election with heavy labor support. Nevertheless, he said Wednesday he will talk to the unions about innovative ways to provide better and cheaper health care. Helping de Blasio do that will be Dean Fuleihan, who was named the city’s new budget director on Wednesday.
Fuleihan served in top Albany fiscal posts for three decades.
As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, in announcing Fuleihan’s appointment, de Blasio said he remains determined to move his progressive agenda forward.
“We’re going to shift the way we provide economic development subsidies,” he said. “We’re going to move away from the approach of the past that favored large corporations, and we’re going to move subsidies towards, as I said many times, small businesses and towards the City University of New York.”
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