NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Angry furriers descended on City Hall Thursday to protest proposed city council legislation to ban the sale of fur apparel and accessories.
They claim it would decimate the industry and result in the loss of hundreds of jobs and billions in revenue over the next decade.
They chanted “Save our jobs! Save our jobs!” Dozens of people who work in the New York City fur industry came to City Hall to tell Council Speaker Corey Johnson to “fur-get” about his proposed ban on the sale of clothing and accessories made of animal skin with hair, fleece, or fur attached.
“We’re here to say we’ve had enough. Enough of the attacks. Enough of the attacks on our families,” said Brooklyn furrier Steven Lilikakis.
The furriers cast the argument in stark economic terms, pointing out that 98 percent of the industry business owners said they would move out of New York City if the ban were to go into effect, taking 1,100 jobs, costing New York City $3.3 billion in revenue in the next decade and leaving lots of empty storefronts.
“I’ve been in the fur business about 35 years now. It’s my livelihood, and now people are trying to take my livelihood,” said fur worker Geoffrey Geters.
“I’m a single dad… this is how I make my income,” said fur stylist Messiah McNeir.
The furriers charge this is just the blown Amazon deal on a smaller scale.
“After Speaker Corey Johnson was one of the people who actually spearheaded Amazon leaving New York City, his job is now to destroy any other kind of viable business,” Lilikakis said.
CBS2’s Marcia Kramer put the question to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“I wonder if you’re concerned by the loss of jobs. There are 130 businesses, it’s a $400 million business,” Kramer said.
“I am humanly sympathetic to folks in that industry because it is a loss of jobs,” de Blasio said. “I don’t belittle the concern. If something happens here, there has to be some sense of how to phase it in in a way that really does try to protect some jobs.”
But “El Progresso” de Blasio – who, by the way, now gets around the city in a hybrid SUV – wants to make sure he keeps his liberal base close, Kramer reported.
“I also want to say the impulse of that legislation, I do agree with,” de Blasio said. “Marcia, I’m going to make a controversial announcement. I do not own a mink coat. I do not want a mink coat.”
“Not even a mink-lined parka?” Kramer asked.
“Sorry, Marcia. No mink for me,” he said.
Johnson says the protest did not change his mind.
“I never want to see jobs lost or businesses close,” he said. “But this is the right thing to do.”