Michael Bloomberg declined to weigh in on the standoff in Wisconsin between state workers and the governor’s office, but did stress his own support for the city’s labor unions at a morning press conference
“I’m not going to get involved with Wisconsin,” Bloomberg said in response to a reporter’s question. ”I’ve said this a thousand times, I think this city is better off because of the municipal unions. I think it would be very difficult to manage the workforce of this city of 300,000 that does so many things to make this city such a great place.”
While Bloomberg chose to stay neutral on the furor engulfing Wisconsin’s statehouse, Sen. Chuck Schumer has sent a letter to his constituents rallying them to support state workers in Wisconsin, who are threatened with the loss of their collective bargaining powers. Teamsters Local 237, a New York City shop that represents various city workers, is sending union members to Wisconsin so they can support their fellow union members.
While New York has not seen a confrontation on the same scale as Wisconsin, state employees in New York have stridently opposed proposed budget cuts that would include attempts to negotiate reduced wages and pension benefits. Bloomberg has frequently cited the need for pension reform, though at this morning conference he blamed past governments, not unions, for what he called unafforable pension costs.
“We have given away things that we can no longer afford, that we have to work with unions to find ways to reduce costs,” Bloomberg said. “We don’t have a problem with collective bargaining here — it’s contentious, that’s what should happen. Both sides want something and you wind up with something in the middle.”