News & Politics

Payback? Pro-Thompson Labor Leader Says City Hall Cancelled D.C. Meeting

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Just how ticked off was Team Bloomberg at losing last night’s endorsement vote at the Working Families Party?

Consider:

One of those casting a crucial vote to give the party’s
nomination to city comptroller Bill Thompson was Stuart
Appelbaum (pictured), president of the powerful Retail,
Wholesale and Department Store Union which represents some 40,000 workers here in the city. Appelbaum said he woke up this morning to a message from City Hall canceling a long-planned meeting in Washington that Bloomberg’s office
had arranged with Obama administration members to discuss
ways to end international boycotts of Israel.

“No reason. Not postponed. Not delayed. Cancelled.” said Appelbaum. “This is the morning after the vote.”

The labor leader said that when his staff checked, Obama
administration officials told them that Bloomberg’s office
had called to say that the meeting “was no longer
necessary.”

Bloomberg spokesmen said they knew nothing about it. “I didn’t know we controlled the White House schedule,” said one who said he’d look into the matter.

Appelbaum, a top labor supporter for Israel, said the move is misdirected payback. “This is just punishing the people
of Israel,” he said. “It is outrageous.”

Appelbaum said he was lobbied heavily by Bloomberg’s campaign
aides right through last night’s contentious meeting of the
coordinating committee of the Working Families Party.

“I think the Working Families Party endorsement was seen as
very important by both sides, and a lot of pressure was put
on people not to vote for an endorsement of Bill Thompson,”
he said. “I probably got, as the meeting itself was going
on, twenty or more messages between my cell phone, text
messages, and emails.”

Some of the mayor’s operatives, the union leader said,
“talked about consequences.”

Among the issues that Appelbaum’s RWDSU has been pushing at
City Hall is to ensure living wages for retail workers
hired at major stores built with city assistance, like
the pending development at the giant Kingsbridge Armory in
the north Bronx.

Bloomberg had actively sought the Working Families nomination, appearing
last week at a forum keyed to party rank and file, many of
whom are union members. The mayor’s fall-back position was
a no-endorsement vote for the party, the same stance it
took in 2005 when Freddy Ferrer was the Democratic nominee
against Bloomberg.

“I listened to what both candidates had to say at the
forum,” said Appelbaum. “I felt that Bill Thompson best
articulated the needs and concerns of the Working Families
Party.” Image via RWDSU.

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