MIDTOWN — Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned the city’s municipal labor unions Tuesday that they should be prepared to signficantly manage expectations as they prepare to sit down and negotiate new contracts with soon-to-be-mayor Bill de Blasio.
While he praised the unions for their “superb” willingness to help the city during tight times in the past — most notably during the fiscal crisis of the 1970s — the governor said labor leaders need to be “realistic” in their demands amid the difficulties currently faced by the city.
“Going into the conversation, everyone needs a reality adjustment,” Cuomo said during an unrelated press conference at the Javits Center.
“The unions have understood that in the past and they've acted accordingly and my guess is that they will again.”
De Blasio has said Cuomo’s handling of the public sector unions is the model he hoped to follow.
Outgoing mayor Michael Bloomberg announced last week that he handed de Blasio a balanced budget for the next fiscal year — but critics have pointed to the 152 outstanding contracts and back pay demands the new mayor will inherit as a massive budget gap that could await the new administration.
Cuomo also weighed in on de Blasio’s signature plan to bring universal pre-k and expanded afterschool programs for middle school students in the city, saying he continues to share de Blasio's goals, even if he doesn't agree with the proposed method of paying for them.
“We are on exactly on the same track that pre-k is a great service and a necessary service that should be offered,” Cuomo said, calling de Blasio a “personal friend.”
“The question becomes how to pay for it,” the governor said. “All of these questions of finance will be discussed next year, during the legislative session. I think what’s more important is to focus on what we want to get done, which is pre-k. We’ll figure out how to pay for it.”
Cuomo's comments come the day after de Blasio doubled down on his commitment to pay for the early childhood education program by raising taxes by a half a percentage point on city residents earning $500,000 or more a year.
“I’ve said many times I’ve put forward a plan and I’m going to fight for that plan. I’m not going to bargain against myself,” de Blasio said on Monday, calling his tax hike plan “the best route forward governmentally and politically.”