In late 2009, after a tumultuous back-and-forth in contract negotiations, DC37 ended its support for Mayor Bloomberg–a leader whom they viewed as emotionally numb towards union layoffs and benefit cuts with the Great Recession settling in. For the 2010 mayoral election, DC37 switched from a mayor it once endorsed in 2006 to Democratic nominee Bill Thompson. New York City’s largest public union consists of over 121,000 members; with those numbers in mind, DC37 stands as a formidable force this November. And, last night, they chose their favorite in the post-Bloomberg detente: Comptroller John Liu.
The union has yet to release an official statement of endorsement, but it was discovered yesterday evening that the union’s assembly voted to endorse the comptroller. Executive Director Lillian Roberts made it clear in an earlier press release that the union sought to support a politician who truly cared about “neglected communities and the public workers that serve them.”
But why is the city’s largest public union endorsing a candidate who currently stands at 8 percent in polls?
As comptroller, Liu presents himself as the justice figure in city politics; his main job is to detect and eliminate corruption in all areas of government. It was his office that was responsible for uncovering the CityTime scandal in 2010–an event that sparked the fury of DC37 and other unions with the project’s huge ties to private contractors. To the municipal workers, he’s the defender and watchdog of the city’s finances.
Because the union doesn’t have time for Bloomberg, in effect, it has faltered in support for Christine Quinn, even after her victory two weeks ago on the paid sick leave bill. The endorsement of Liu is a huge loss for the council speaker and yet more evidence of the difficult position Bloomberg has placed her in with the Democratic base.
However, the labor force has failed to unite behind a single Democratic candidate, which may cost them at the polls. DC37 is the city’s largest public union, but numerous other unions have divided amongst roster lines, some throwing their support behind Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, while others sticking to a firm belief that Quinn is (and always will be) the frontrunner.
And, of course, who could forget the Weiner factor in all of this?