Up at SEIU Local 1199‘s auditorium on West 43rd Street, a packed auditorium of union healthcare workers hollered and danced to an upbeat soundtrack of funk and salsa, played so loud the bass vibrated in my teeth and the most placid of press photographers were tapping their feet.
“Is 1199 in the house?” yelled the emcee. Indeed, 1199 was in the house. He promised to keep the pumped soundtrack going and added that “we want you to explode! At the proper time.”
Putting reports of a failed Bloomberg deal behind them, the workers of 1199 were flying Freddy’s flag. And when the candidate emerged, they exploded in a fervor approaching Beatlemania.
“I know you, because you do some of the hardest work, the most thankless work, and you get the smallest paycheck for it!” Freddy hailed them. He also recast his role as a putative Bloomberg-slayer: “All the smart money was on Goliath,” he said, adding the Biblical bruiser “probably had tattoos.” He cast the assembled crowd as his humble arsenal.
“1199, all 200,000 of you: You are my smooth stones!” His stones hollered, looking eager to be hurled at Hizzoner.
Then Dennis Rivera struck the first blow.
“The Bloomberg administration has done a terrific job of trying to dampen the enthusiasm” behind the Ferrer endorsement, he said, referring to Bloomberg’s claim that he refused an offer to put 25,000 home health workers on the city payroll in exchange for the nod from 1199.
Growling that he was angry, Rivera pledged the to unleash the union’s campaigning power for Freddy. Then he added cooly: “We don’t get mad. We get even.”
Ferrer said told reporters the only firm committment he’d made to union members was a non-specific one to “work every day to make their lives better.”