Bloomberg’s Dance with Labor

Hidden behind Commentary magazine’s pay wall is this description of Michael Bloomberg’s history with labor unions, from Fred Siegel and Sol Stern:

“The aftermath of 9/11 was an extraordinary lost opportunity for the city. It could have been a moment when, in the name of shared responsibility for bringing the city back to life, spiraling labor costs could have been addressed. Public-sector employees working for the city labored but 35 hours a week and contributed nothing to their own health-insurance premiums. Rather than take up the matter, Bloomberg simply retained the status quo when it came to negotiating with the city’s most important voting bloc. A routine was established: Bloomberg would start out by talking tough about how new contracts could be paid for only with increased productivity, and in response unions would reply in a patented and choreographed ‘anger’ mode. This false confrontation would be followed by a renewal of the old contracts and their counterproductive work rules with a few cosmetic improvements. Thus, the need for new borrowing.”

Bob Hennelly has more on Bloomberg’s latest tangling with unions.

UPDATE: It’s worth noting what were some of Bloomberg’s top union goals immediately after 9/11: namely,  to prevent the hemorrhaging of senior cops and firemen who, at the time, were — legitimately, and horribly — getting massive overtime and therefore strongly incentivized to retire. That was, for the most part, kept to a minimum. Bloomberg’s Dance with Labor