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Mayor, Union Cross Paths (In More Ways Than One)
NY Daily News
Frank Lombardi

May 25, 2010
View the Original Article


Mayor Bloomberg picked an opportune time — at least for retail union boss Stuart Appelbaum — to arrive back at City Hall this morning after hosting a tech-business event on West Houston St.

The mayor’s arrival coincided with Appelbaum delivering a diatribe at a rally on the steps of City Hall in favor of a living wage bill and against the mayor’s support of rich developers and Wall streeters.

Bloomberg, carrying a briefcase, walked up the steps, glancing with an amused smile at the several hundred demonstrators, who chanted they wanted living wages and they wanted it now. Appelbaum paused as the crowd around him stirred and chanted as the mayor calmly walked on up the stairs and into City Hall.

Then Appelbaum , president of the large Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union—.continued with his prepared remarks:

“Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg said (living wage is) a nice idea but it’s poorly thought out and will not work, the economics won’t work if you have to pay more. Mr. Mayor, that is the same thing they said about the minimum wage and Social Security and every social program instituted in this country and in this city. And they were wrong then and they are wrong now. Without this bill, we will be joining in a race to the bottom.”

Appelbaum is a major backer of the move by a score of City Council members to enact a city law requiring developers and other employers benefiting from public subsidies to pay workers in jobs created by those subsidized development or project a so-called living wage — meaning $10 an hour with medical and other job benefits, or $11.50 an hour without benefits.

The mayor opposes the bill, which is being reintroduced at today’s Council session after failing to go to a vote last year, and Council Speaker Christine Quinn has yet to say if she will support it.

Before the mayor’s convenient walk-through, Appelbaum lashed out at Bloomberg's support of development projects, saying:

“We need to put the interest of this city above those of private developers. When the public’s resources are used to support private development, the public has a right to expect something in return, and for us that means good jobs, jobs that pay living wages… Developers now seem to say, with the city’s blessing, 'Come to work and you will still be condemned to a life of poverty.' Our city’s economic development projects have become poverty wage centers…What is so revolutionary about asking that when the city gives public resources to private developers that the public get something in return? We seem to worry about the stockbrokers and bankers and Wall Street -- why can’t we worry about New Yorkers who are struggling every day just to make ends meet.”

He might have said, “Thanks Mr. Mayor for being a timely prop at my rally.”