October 17, 2013
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – Plumbers, paramedics and hotel workers rallying behind mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio in his first televised debate with ex-MTA boss Joe Lhota this week, are expecting big things should the public advocate best his rival in the general election – but there are serious concerns that the sweeping progressive changes many anticipate may never really materialize. Watch Video
“We’re looking for a lot of changes,” EMT David Malayev told LaborPress on Tuesday. “I’m actually tired of the Bloomberg years and hopefully, de Blasio is going to bring some change with education, work reforms…and, hopefully, stop and frisk is going to end.”
Malayev’s sentiments are reflective of a lot of working men and women in the city who feel that the game has been rigged in favor of the super-wealthy.
Winsome Barrett, a career Grand Hyatt Hotel worker, said that a de Blasio administration will mean “more people will get work. Changes to healthcare, schools – everything.”
Israel Miranda, president of the EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors – one of a host of municipal labor unions working without a conract – said he is simply looking forward to more communication between “City Hall and the working man.”
“Especially public employees,” Miranda said. “We know that [Bill de Blasio] understands what first responders do on a day-to-day basis. And is willing to help us with the things we need to better serve the city.”
But more than a few political gadflies within the labor community are already expressing the fear that even after two decades of righwing administrations, as the new mayor, de Blasio may very well find himself the target of both conservatives who think he’s going too far, and progressives who believe he is not going far enough.
Whichever course de Blasio chooses to take should he be elected mayor, he – as well as the City Council – will face a plethora of daunting fiscal challenges regardless of their political ideologies.
In a recent interview with LaborPress, Robert Ledwith, president of the Concrete Alliance of Greater New York, said that the new mayor and City Council must strike a balance between economic growth and economic reform.
"I keep my fingers crossed that together they’ll be able to have the wisdom along with the passion – not just the passion – to make it work so there’s more equitable, reasonable sharing of the wealth of the City of New York,” Ledwith said.
Before the televised dust up in which both Lhota and de Blasio wasted no time slamming each other, Miranda advised the front-running de Blasio to “stick to the issues.”
“He’s a mayor for all citizens of NY,” Miranda said. “Not just the very rich or the very poor. He’s a mayor for everybody. And he’s going to be fair to everybody. And that’s all you can ask for.”