De Blasio fights for Long Island College Hospital, 1199
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio opposes the state's plans to close Long Island College Hospital in brownstone Brooklyn. Very strongly.
“De Blasio arrested, just as he wanted," read the headline in the Times on July 10, after he was taken in by police at a rally co-hosted by the health care workers union protesting the state's closure plans.
Former Rep. Anthony Weiner and comptroller John Liu also participated in the rally, but avoided arrest.
(When observers criticized de Blasio's attention-mongering, de Blasio called them "imbeciles.")
The following Thursday, the Daily News reported that "de Blasio and other elected officials led cops on a chase through Long Island College Hospital Thursday afternoon as they protested the latest plan to close the 155-year-old institution."
The next day, de Blasio's campaign emailed its supporters, warning that “New Yorkers cannot afford to lose another hospital. Especially not to real estate developers just to create condos for the wealthy with nice views of lower Manhattan.”
The hospital is losing about $15 million a month.
Today, the Brooklyn Eagle ran a column asking, “Why just de Blasio? Where are the others on LICH?”
De Blasio may well have genuinely strong feelings about the hospital, even relative to his rivals'.
But there's a political answer, too: De Blasio's Democratic rivals haven't been endorsed by 1199 SEIU, the union representing many of the hospital's workers.
Labor is split in this election, and it can be argued that the unions' self-mitigation is most harmful to de Blasio, whose candidacy is more strongly predicated on support from organized labor than, say, Christine Quinn's or, certainly, Anthony Weiner's.
But he has 1199, which is the city's largest labor union. It is his only major union endorsement.
If de Blasio, who is polling in the second tier of Democratic candidates, harbors any hopes of making it into the runoff, he's going to have to rally that membership to work for him.
"Given the fact that the labor endorsements are split, you need the organizational muscle to canvass and get you the vote, you need to light a fire under them," said Doug Muzzio, a Baruch College political science professor. "He’s got to motivate them, he’s got to make them excited. He’s got to make every one of those union members vote for him and work for him in some sense."
De Blasio had no comment for this article. Nor did 1199.
On July 12, a couple days after that de Blasio arrest, the union said, via its website, "Bill de Blasio, New York City mayoral candidate, committed civil disobedience in the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King."
CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, the hospital name was wrong in the original headline on this article.