Teamsters Local 237 to back Bill Thompson

The Teamsters Local 237, one of the city’s more influential public sector unions, is set to endorse former Comptroller Bill Thompson’s mayoral bid Thursday, sources told the Insider. The president of the 24,000-member union, Gregory Floyd, on Wednesday morning confirmed the endorsement.

The Teamsters’ backing is a coup for Mr. Thompson, who is also expected to get the backing Wednesday afternoon of the much larger United Federation of Teachers.

The other affiliates of Teamsters Local 237’s umbrella group, the Teamsters Joint Council 16, recently endorsed one of Mr. Thompson’s rivals for the Democratic nomination, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, but Mr. Floyd’s members decided to go their own way, he said.

“My members thought the she was too close to the mayor, and were upset that she allowed him to have a third term,” said Mr. Floyd. “Our members were emphatic that they didn’t want Christine Quinn.”

The endorsement from the union, which consists of both white collar and blue collars city agency workers, is slated for Thursday at 12:30 p.m. at the union’s headquarters on West 14thSt.

Oddly enough, Teamsters Local 237 endorsed Mayor Michael Bloomberg for re-election in 2009 over Mr. Thompson, that year’s Democratic nominee. But Mr. Floyd said that while the union had a close relationship with Mr. Bloomberg’ former deputy mayors during his first two terms, such as Ed Skyler and Kevin Sheekey, he had struggled to work with new ones, notably Cas Holloway and Howard Wolfson, on issues such as the administration’s use of outside consultants instead of union workers.

“We had high hopes for a third term, but it didn’t turn out that way,” said Mr. Floyd. “You had this sort of my-way-or-the-highway crowd” in the mayor’s office.

Internal union politics may have also played a role in the decision in the 2013 endorsement decision. After backing Mr. Bloomberg in 2009, Mr. Floyd won a fairly tough re-election challenge, with a dissident faction in the union favoring Mr. Thompson.

Mr. Floyd said that he saw Mr. Thompson as someone who would listen to his union’s concerns, in particular its proposals for reducing city health care costs as unions negotiate new contracts.

“Bill Thompson is the adult in the room. He’s even-keeled,” said Mr. Floyd. “He has the message and the temperament to keep the city moving forward.”

Mr. Floyd, whose union represents more than 7,000 New York City Housing Authority employees, also said the fact that Mr. Thompson was the lone candidate to call for the firing of New York City Housing Authority Chairman John Rhea influenced his decision.

Unlike other Teamsters affiliates, the vast majority of Mr. Floyd’s members are New York City public sector workers, making his group’s endorsement especially valuable. And the Housing Authority employees have close relationships with the agency’s residents, who could be influenced to vote for Mr. Thompson, Mr. Floyd said.

At one point in 2011 Mr. Floyd was himself openly mulling a run for mayor, but said he had no regrets about passing because Mr. Thompson was in the race.

“I’ve found my guy in Bill Thompson,” Mr. Floyd said. “He was the one candidate we could give our issues to, and he’s done a great job getting those issues to the forefront.”

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