Quinn on union negotiations and the city’s fiscal health: Trust me

Christine Quinn. ()
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Trust her.

That's the message Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn had for voters today, after Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned that New York City could go the way of Detroit if it doesn't get its pension and health-care costs under control.

"One thing I can tell New Yorkers is if they elect me mayor, they don't need to worry about this," said Quinn today at a press conference at City Hall about the prevailing wage. 

The city's workforce is working on expired contracts. 

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None of the Democrats running for mayor have talked in any great depth about how they would go about negotiating new union contracts (though Anthony Weiner has said he will ask workers to pay part of their health care premiums). The typical line, one echoed by Quinn today, is that contracts should not be negotiated in public.

Also, none of the Democratic candidates have ruled out retroactive raises for the years during which workers labored under those expired contracts, something that could cost the city anywhere from $4.5 billion to nearly $8 billion.

Today, despite attempts by three different reporters to draw a more usefully specific position out of her, Quinn offered nothing else on the issue.

"The taxpayers in the City of New York have a lot to worry about in their own lives," she said, when I asked if this wasn't something New Yorkers should in fact be worried about. "They've got families to worry about, their future to worry about, their jobs, their parents, their children. I don't want them to worry about the fiscal health of the City of New York."

She went on to tout her own record passing eight on-time city budgets, as required by law, and her role working alongside Bloomberg to sock away money in a rainy-day fund during the boom years, a rainy-day fund that has since been emptied.

"I've balanced budgets on time," she said. "I've planned for the future. I've gotten agreements with unions and the administration that saved over 4,000 jobs, and I've been able to say no to unions when I thought their requests were not right and would have cost us too much money. No one else has that record and those are the kind of skills you need to make sure New York never becomes Detroit. And on my watch it hasn't. And on my future watch, it won't."