GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino defended his union bona fides as labor leaders attacked him for planning a fund-raiser with anti-collective bargaining Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker tonight.
Public employee union heads demanded the Westchester County executive cancel his $500 ticket event with Mr. Walker, a fellow Republican, at Union League Club on E. 37th Street in Manhattan, given Walker’s record of curtailing the bargaining power of municipal labor groups in his own state.
“He has no business coming to New York and it is outrageous that a candidate for public office in New York is seeking his support,” said Harry Nespoli, chairman of the Municipal Labor Committee and president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, Local 831, in a statement. “This is a slap in the face to every hard working New Yorker.”
Mr. Astorino refused to respond directly to Mr. Nespoli’s criticism, but the Republican pointed out that he himself is a member of the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists union, due to his 20 years of working as a radio host. He also touted having successfully negotiated new contracts with unions in Westchester County, and said he supported collective bargaining rights.
“We want people to be able to have good wages, good jobs, and collective bargaining is how we do that,” Mr. Astorino told reporters at an afternoon press conference at City Hall. “I’m certainly not anti-union.”
The Republican challenger to Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised Mr. Walker for cutting public spending, but refused to comment on his methods.
“He obviously is attacking the out-of-control expenses,” said Mr. Astorino. “You can question the way he gets there.”
Mr. Astorino has had a fraught relationship with some of the unions on his home turf, however. Last month, union members at Westchester Community College protested an Astorino speaking event at the institution, blasting the county executive for failing to reach a contract with them.