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Union Chief Stu Appelbaum Swipes At Mayor Bloomberg Ahead Of "Living Wage" Rally Tonight
New York Daily News
Celeste Katz

January 13, 2011
View the Original Article

I spoke to RWDSU leader Stu Appelbaum ahead of tonight's scheduled "living wage" rally (slated for 6:30 p.m. at the Convent Baptist Church in Harlem) and the union chief had some rather harsh words for Mayor Bloomberg.

"Perhaps if Mayor Bloomberg spent less weekends in Bermuda and more in the neighborhoods, he would understand the hardship New Yorkers are experiencing just trying to live in the city," Appelbaum told me, taking a poke at Hizzoner for being in an undisclosed location during Christmas Weekend Blizzard prep.

"There's a moral imperative that we do something in New York City to alleviate the hardship and suffering people are experiencing, and I think it just makes sense that if we're providing public subsidies to private developers, then the public should be getting something in return," he said.

The living wage bill -- which has increasing support in the City Council but has yet to come to a hearing -- would provide workers on city-subsidized development projects with a baseline of $10 an hour with benefits or $11.50 an hour without benefits. Bloomberg has called it "a nice idea" that simply won't work.

Appelbaum, unsurprisingly, says Bloomberg's out of touch when it comes to the struggles of the city's working poor -- but has no problem dictating to citizens "how much salt they're allowed to have in their food."

Bloomberg has said he's concerned the bill would hobble economic growth in the city, and Council Speaker Christine Quinn has yet to allow it to come to the floor for a hearing.

While Appelbaum didn't completely drop the hammer on Quinn (and her possible future political aspirations), he got there by a sidestreet, saying the way public officials approach the living wage bill "will define them for the public."

The rally will also feature City Comptroller John Liu and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.