New York, Transportation

Teamsters: ‘No Appetite in Council to Ban Horse Carriages’

December 9, 2014
By Marc Bussanich

New York, NY—That’s what the president of a Teamsters local said at City Hall on Monday as a bevy of private sector unions, along with several councilmembers, threw their support behind the Teamsters to try to save New York City’s horse carriage industry.

Right before the presser started, the Teamsters picked up support from two of the three Council Republicans, the Council’s minority leader Vincent Ignizio and Councilmember Steven Matteo.

“We’re here to pledge our support with the Teamsters and with the horse-drawn carriage industry to say that nobody should be put out of work by city government,” said Councilmember Ignizio.

He was asked about what kind of support exists on the Council to preserve the industry.

“There’s a lot more support than people think, and I think as the days and weeks go by we’re going to see more people who are against this ban because it makes no sense and puts people out of work.”

Union members and leaders across the private sector showed up at City Hall to voice their support.

The Central Labor Council’s president, Vincent Alvarez, criticized the introduction of a bill in the City Council on Monday to ban the industry that would negatively impact working families.

“Today, a bill will be introduced to eliminate 300 plus careers in an iconic industry, and turn the livelihoods of 300 plus families upside down. The role of government should not be to create a problem where one doesn't exist, and then force workers to come up with solutions to save their jobs. We will stand with the Teamsters for as long as it takes to ensure that these working men are able to continue to maintain these family-sustaining careers, in a historic and iconic industry that our city has come to know and love.”

Several councilmembers also showed their support, including Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and councilmembers Rory Lancman, Costa Constantinides, Rafael Espinal and Daneek Miller, the chair of the Civil Service and Labor Committee. And Assemblyman David Weprin said that he would be re-introducing a bill in Albany that would prevent the city from banning the horse carriage industry when the legislative session starts in January.

While animal rights groups led by New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS) want to ban outright horses from the city’s streets, Councilman Rory Lancman said maybe the industry should be expanded.

“By the way, I’ve got a part of Flushing Meadow Park in my district. We should be talking about maybe expanding the industry. Let’s bring some horse carriages to Queens,” he said.

Last week Councilmember Daniel Dromm said he would be sponsoring the legislation in the Council that would effectively ban the industry by not renewing horse carriage licenses that expire in May 16. In an interview with him last week, he said he’s confident there are enough votes in the Council to pass the ban.

“It’s a process, we have to go through the process. We’ll see in the end, but ultimately I feel that we will have the number of votes necessary to pass this legislation.”

In the accompanying video interview, we asked George Miranda, president of Teamsters Joint Council 16, which represents about 300 persons in the industry, about whether he believes there is or aren’t enough votes to pass the ban. 

“I’m confident that there is no appetite right now on the City Council to pass this, and I hope it stays that way. This is a bread and butter issue. To do away with 300 jobs is just unconscionable. We hope the Council understands that, and that we’re willing to work with them to find solutions to the problems [they think exist] in the industry,” said Miranda.

One solution the Teamsters are considering is restricting horse carriages to within Central Park, which the president of the horse carriage Teamsters Local 553 told us last week.

@marcbuss marc@laborpress.org

December 8, 2014

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