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During the 2013 mayoral election pitting Bill de Blasio against Joe Lhota, one police-union official explained the dilemma he and his colleagues faced by saying, "One of them hates cops and loves unions, the other one hates unions and loves cops."
Mr. de Blasio was the party of the first part, and while he has never convinced the police unions that he supports their members, few would have questioned his affinity for labor until very recently, when he spoke of hiring private security to help maintain order in the jail system.
It was a red flag waved before the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association, which already was furious with the Mayor for not appointing a new class of recruits earlier this summer to deal with staff shortages.
He and Correction Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi have castigated COs whom they believe have been staying out of work in defiance. Their logic is flawed: officers know the ones who would suffer most if they stayed home out of spite would be their colleagues.
The Mayor lately has turned his anger against COBA, as if the union was responsible for providing the motivation to its members that has been sapped by broken promises and triple shifts. He filed a lawsuit lacking in substantive evidence accusing it of either instigating or condoning a job action.
Then, less than 48 hours later, he withdrew it, based on nothing more than a lawyer for the union saying it would make its best effort to persuade those who were not ailing to come to work.
Our guess is that Mr. de Blasio reconsidered once he paused long enough to realize the privatizing threat put him on the verge of squandering any remaining good will he has among unions.