De Blasio to focus on labor contracts in first budget address

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Mayor de Blasio will focus on the city's open labor contacts in his first budget presentation next week.

"In terms of the budget address, we're obviously going to talk about the profound challenges we face," de Blasio told reporters gathered in City Hall for the announcement of Carl Weisbrod as his new city planning commissioner.

"We are going into the great unknown here," he added. "We've never had all our labor contracts open simultaneously. We've literally never, ever experienced that before as a city so I'm going to describe what that means and I'm going to describe the actions we're taking to deal with that situation."

As Capital reported Friday, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association has already met with de Blasio's labor negotiating team, in the hope that the new administration will be more sympathetic than former mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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De Blasio said the P.B.A., and the other 151 bargaining units in the city that are working under outdated contracts, have not entered negotiations.

"There's no formal negotiations going on yet. What has happened is a series of just broad, introductory meetings," de Blasio said.

The Bloomberg administration and the Citizens Budget Commission have pegged the figure for giving the city's entire workforce retroactive pay at upwards of $7 billion.

The city Independent Budget Office puts the tally at $4.5 billion.

Either way, the outstanding contracts pose a major challenge for the city's labor-friendly mayor.

The new mayor will deliver his budget presentation on Wednesday, two days after he delivers his first State of the City address.

He did not divulge many details about Monday's speech but indicated it would focus on his campaign theme of closing the income gap.

"We're going to talk about in the State of the City how we're framing this first year of work," he said. "And how we intend to follow through on this very ambitious agenda. I think the people of this city deserve to have a clear articulation of why we're doing what we're doing and what we seek to get done in the short term.

"I'm looking forward to have an opportunity to really lay out a bigger vision and plan."