New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has been in office three months, but he has managed to make enemies of the Democratic Party establishment, far-left charter school opponents, beloved weatherman Al Roker, and beloved weatherrodent Punxsutawney Phil in that short time. Now, labor unions are turning on de Blasio’s call to ban horse-drawn carriages.
Published by the New York Daily News, the Central Labor Council has sent a letter to de Blasio calling for him to reconsider his proposed ban on horse-drawn carriages, as they provide both an important tourist attraction to the city and “hundreds of reliable, well-paying middle-class jobs.” The Central Labor Council represents more than 1.3 million workers in a number of fields and is comprised of several smaller unions.
Members of both the AFL-CIO and the local chapter of the SEIU work with the Central Labor Council, and the horse carriage drivers are represented by the Teamsters. The Daily News notes that it is the first time any union has made public any opposition to a de Blasio policy, either during the campaign or during his tenure.
“We… urge you to express support and solidarity for the NYC horse carriage workers, by standing up to preserve this iconic and thriving industry,” write the leaders of the unions, appealing to de Blasio’s stances on income inequality and job preservation for the middle and lower classes. The letter notes that should de Blasio ban the industry, “hundreds of working families would suddenly find themselves without income, a precarious situation for anyone in today’s economy.” It also addresses the concerns of many over the welfare of the animals involved in the industry, claiming that the horses “are treated with great love and respect by their drivers and owners.” The full letter is posted at the Daily News site.
De Blasio campaigned on a pro-worker platform, but from the inception of his campaign, rumors surfaced that the mayor would want to ban the horse-drawn carriage industry in New York. While de Blasio has said that animal rights are a big reason for banning the practice, reports show that doing so might result in the slaughter of many horses that would no longer be of use to their owners.
The de Blasio administration has had a rough first few months, with the New York Post blasting his politics for making the mayor look like he is “stumbling about like a drunk in the dark.” The Post has been especially harsh on de Blasio for offenses such as jaywalking and dashing through red lights after proposing a traffic safety initiative. His heavily-criticized performances during several New York City snowstorms and attacks on charter schools have led to a less-than-stellar first poll since his election, where more than 57% of New Yorkers say de Blasio’s performance in general has been less than “good.”