Teamsters Local 237 President Greg Floyd could be excused if he began referring to Bill de Blasio as Mayor Disingenuous.
A reporter called Mr. Floyd Sept. 1 about another subject, and during the course of the conversation asked whether he had been invited to be part of the press conference taking place at City Hall at that moment about the delay in the opening of city schools until Sept. 21. United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew—who had been scheduled to hold a strike-authorization vote that afternoon if the Mayor stuck to his plan for a Sept. 10 opening—was a participant, as was District Council 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido, who represents School Nurses, lunch workers and crossing guards.
Didn't Get the Call
But Mr. Floyd, who represents School Safety Agents, said that not only wasn't he asked to take part, "I was not told about the delay."
He added that it didn't surprise him, calling it "inevitable" and questioning whether the Department of Education could safely open schools on Sept. 21.
The new target date was actually proposed several weeks earlier by Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Mark Cannizzaro, but was rejected then by the Mayor, who said he and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza were confident they could have a safe opening on Sept. 10, the opening day of the city school year.
"I just can't believe how stubborn he is," Mr. Floyd said.
What made his omission from the Mayor's press conference particularly glaring was that the night before Mr. de Blasio said during his weekly appearance on "Inside City Hall" that he was eager to talk to the Local 237 leader about another pressing matter.
'He Has My Cell Number'
Alluding to the fact that earlier in the day, the Mayor had acceded to a request from several city union leaders that he delay sending out layoff notices to give them time to push for help from Albany that could eliminate the need for pink slips for up to 22,000 employees, host Errol Louis said, "We heard from Greg Floyd from the Teamsters Union that he and other labor leaders have been trying to meet with you to suggest some ways short of layoffs to deal with the budget deficit."
Mr. de Blasio confirmed that he'd spoken to "a number of labor leaders in just the past week. And I respect Greg Floyd a lot and know him a long time. And if he wants to meet, I'd be happy to meet. He has my cell number...I would have happily met with him whenever he wanted to."
He continued, "But I know for a fact that some labor leaders are saying that early retirement could be a solution," with additional pension credit that could be granted through state legislation inducing potentially tens of thousands of employees to leave the municipal payroll. "I think early retirement can be a helpful piece, but we're talking about a $1-billion deficit we need to close for the current fiscal year. Early retirement won't be enough, not by a long shot."
$300M Isn't Chump Change
Mr. Floyd, asked about those remarks, noted wryly, "And the meeting we were supposed to have today got postponed to tomorrow. He said the buyouts and early retirements wouldn't be enough. Well, if they got you only $300 million, that means you only need $700 million in other savings."
Asked why he thought he'd been excluded from the press conference on the delay in schools opening, he said he believed it was due to past criticisms he'd made of mayoral policies, on matters ranging from school suspensions to Housing Authority repairs to Mr. de Blasio blaming HRA security officers for a dispute in which city cops bore at least equal responsibility.
The Mayor's Press Office did not respond to a question as to why Mr. Floyd wasn't invited.
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