On his weekly radio show this morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg discussed the city’s ongoing bus driver strike and waxed philosophical about the nature of public employee unions. And, while explaining the inherent challenges in cutting certain government services, the mayor made sure to extend empathic concern to those on the opposite side of the negotiating table.
“Municipal unions have always had great support from the legislators, whether they are city, state or even federal unions,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “You see the post office–which loses a fortune–they can’t cut back the number of post offices and workers. [This is] partially because every town wants to keep their post office, but partially because there are a lot of jobs involved. I’m sympathetic to people who want to keep their jobs.”
On the particular subject of the bus driver strike, Mr. Bloomberg said the conflict wasn’t about the drivers’ skills or importance, but rather a matter of what New York City should pay in exchange.
“The question is, when it comes, for example, to the bus strike,” he continued. “People keep … saying, ‘Look, these people aren’t making a lot of money.’ That’s true. ‘They work hard.’ Some of that’s true. ‘They’re valuable.’ Yes. ‘Well-trained.’ Yes, but my job is not to try to maintain their jobs and their pay scale. That’s the union’s job or their personal responsibility. My job is to get the services the city needs for the least amount of money.”
Mr. Bloomberg argued that even those who disagree with him do not want to pay the taxes necessary for expansive government contracts.
“The public does not want to pay any more taxes,” he said. “Even on the left, where they are more interested in maintaining entitlements and services, they don’t want to pay any more taxes either.”