As if the commercial real estate industry in New York City doesn’t have enough to worry about, the Working Families Party, which launched a major campaign last spring in Albany to push for stronger rent laws, claimed major victories in the September 15 Democratic primary and September 29 runoff.
A March 10, 2009, press release on the WFP Web site said repealing vacancy decontrol was a top priority. The measure died last spring, but Dan Cantor, executive director of the WFP, promised on the night of the runoff to revive the issue.
John Liu, who was supported by the WFP, won the Democratic runoff for New York City Comptroller with a little more than 26,000 votes. Around 228,000 New Yorkers voted in the runoff, with about 127,000 voting for Liu and 101,000 voting for David Yassky.
The WFP Web site boasted that Liu and Bill DeBlasio, the winner of the runoff for Public Advocate, were victorious because of the WFP’s coalition of neighborhood leaders, union members, tenant activists, advocates for the homeless, and just good old-fashioned civic-minded citizens.
Less than 8 percent of New York City’s voters voted in the runoff and the winning candidates were supported by a coalition that is anti-business, hostile to the real estate industry, and an advocate for tax increases. This at a time when the city is suffering from more than 10 percent unemployment and New Yorkers are desperate to find jobs. The unions making up the core of the WFP haven’t suffered massive job losses experienced by those working in small businesses, retail, media, advertising, finance, real estate, nonprofits and other sectors.
As part of its anti-business agenda, the WFP is now advocating that the City Council force small businesses to provide paid sick time. The Five-Borough Chamber Alliance affirms its opposition to Intro. No. 1059, Provision of Paid Sick Time Earned by Employees, that will mandate businesses – regardless of size – to provide paid sick time. Businesses with 10 or less employees will be required to provide five days of sick time to all employees and businesses with 10 or more employees will be required to provide nine days sick time for all employees. Businesses found in violation will be subject to $1,000 fine for each infraction.
Ed Koch and David Yassky wrote about the WFP threat in the New York Daily News on October 7, 2009. “..as ‘liberals with sanity’ we see danger when narrow agendas overwhelm the public good. That happened this spring when the WFP masterminded a whopping 9% increase in state spending in a year when the state’s economy is actually contracting. The spending was financed by a steep tax hike and in part by more than $6 billion in one-time-only federal stimulus money–which will leave a gaping budget hole for next year.
“Or a few years ago,” the article continued, “when the WFP pressured a majority of the City Council members to sign on to a proposal for a ‘stock transfer tax’ in New York City. Sticking it to Wall Street may sound good to a lot of people–all the more so now–but a moment’s thought should tell you that the idea would be ruinous for New York.”
“The problem is the WFP is driven not simply by ideology, but also by the very specific interests of its component parts–namely, the city’s largest labor unions. These organizations have a very direct financial stake in the state and city budgets, an interest that is often at odds with public interest.”
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