Bill de Blasio is a Progressive in name only
Next year, New Yorkers will make their voices heard at the polls in the 2022 Gubernatorial election. There have been many talented names mentioned with strong progressive records who have been longtime allies of the labor movement, including our current Governor Kathy Hochul, the first woman to hold the office.
There is one name, however, that has no place in this conversation: Bill de Blasio.
In a historic display of narcissism, Mayor de Blasio is reportedly planning to run for Governor despite pitiful poll numbers and presiding over some of the worst crises of affordability and homelessness that New York City has ever faced. Even more distressing, de Blasio is the only name mentioned of the potential candidates who robbed New Yorkers of affordable health care. The truth is, beneath his self-righteous rhetoric on issue after issue, Bill de Blasio is a progressive in name only.
Take for example the 2016 battle over renewing 421-a, the controversial real estate developer tax abatement program. Instead of a jump start for badly needed affordable housing, it has been transformed with the Mayor’s support into a $1.7 billion taxpayer giveaway.
For reasons no one understands, Mayor de Blasio fought tooth-and-nail alongside real estate developers to stop a broad coalition of labor unions and progressives that tried to provide those workers with the pay and benefits they deserve.
Next year, when this taxpayer giveaway to real estate developers is set to expire, working New Yorkers literally cannot afford to have de Blasio wielding the Governor’s power to screw them over again.
We also need a Governor who will prioritize family-sustaining wages, quality health care, comfortable retirement, and job security for regular New Yorkers. That isn’t Bill de Blasio.
When the New York City Civil Service Carpenters were negotiating a new contract with him in 2016, de Blasio and his administration unilaterally slashed paid time off and sick days for our members and ended their annuity payments.
At the time, Municipal Labor Committee Chairman Harry Nespoli said that if the de Blasio Administration “get(s) away with this with the carpenters, they will try this on everybody, this is not just an attack on the carpenters’ union, it’s an attack on hundreds of unions.”
Mayor de Blasio’s tactics were unprecedented and callous. Without paid sick days, Carpenters had no flexibility to take time off if they were injured or sick. Health care costs increased for family members who were ill, leaving some unable to pay for cancer treatments for their loved ones. One member returned to his construction job with a catheter in after treatment for prostate cancer because he could not afford to take unpaid time off.
De Blasio claims the mantle of the progressive movement, but how is this any different from Donald Trump, who also tried to eliminate health care for working Americans? The number of people impacted may be different, but the level of cruelty is the same.
We need a Governor who will deliver a future that prioritizes fair wages, quality care, good benefits, and security. In order to accomplish that though, we must support a Governor with an actual record of progressive achievement, not another vanity project by a failed mayor.
Mayor de Blasio had a golden opportunity to make New York the progressive beacon for workers and he failed – miserably. Let’s not give him another opportunity to do it again.
Joseph Geiger is Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the NYC District Council of Carpenters.