De Blasio's Labor Team

De Blasio's Labor Team

De Blasio's Labor Team
March 8, 2014

Negotiations between many of New York City’s municipal labor unions and the city government are under way, or at the very least in the preliminary stages. The outcome of these negotiations will have a wide-ranging impact on not only Mayor Bill de Blasio’s agenda but also on the executive budget and the city’s overall health. Given the magnitude of these consequences, who will be the key players on the administration’s side working day and night to hammer out a favorable compromise for the city? Several labor insiders expect that de Blasio’s first deputy mayor, Anthony Shorris, and the mayor’s director of intergovernmental affairs, Emma Wolfe, will play a role—especially as the two sides get closer to a deal. Here are some of the other members of de Blasio’s team who will be in the trenches: 

Bob Linn: Linn, the mayor’s director of labor relations, has a long history at the bargaining table, having served in the same role under former mayor Ed Koch. Labor insiders and officials consistently use the words “well-respected” and “professional” when describing him, which could help Linn smooth over the often contentious relationship between the Bloomberg administration and labor, which, as one union leader described it, left “a real bad taste in the unions’ mouths.” On the other hand, Arthur Cheliotes, president of the Communications Workers of America Local 1180, told City & State he felt Linn had only a rudimentary understanding of the city’s workforce when he was working under Koch, a sentiment echoed by some other insiders. It behooves Linn to demonstrate otherwise to his union counterparts in order to facilitate productive bargaining sessions without any lingering acrimony. 

Stanley Brezenoff: The unsettled labor contracts may be the “great unknown” for de Blasio as he puts together his budget; the same can be said for Brezenoff and his role in the upcoming labor negotiations. The mayor jointly announced Linn’s and Brezenoff’s appointments back in December, naming Brezenoff an unpaid adviser to Shorris with a focus on resolving the expired contracts. Brezenoff is another Koch administration veteran, having run the Health and Hospitals Corporation, and has since been active in healthcare and hospitals in the private sector, most recently as the CEO of Continuum. Brezenoff’s appointment raised some eyebrows in the labor community, with some fearing he could influence the mayor and Linn to encourage unions to pay more for their healthcare benefits. Most union officials do not anticipate seeing Brezenoff at the bargaining table, but rather expect him to be an influential voice behind the scenes. 

Renee Campion and Richard Yates: Campion and Yates are holdovers from the previous administration, having served as assistant commissioner and deputy commissioner, respectively, under Bloomberg’s director of labor relations, James Hanley. Labor insiders say Linn was wise to keep Campion and Yates on, as both have the institutional knowledge to bring Linn up to speed on how the workforce has changed and evolved since his time in city government. Some union officials believe Campion will be tasked with negotiating contracts with the civil service workers and Yates will be charged with negotiating with the uniforms—police, fire, corrections, sanitation. A later addition to the Bloomberg labor staff, Campion is generally viewed in a favorable light. Yates, who delayed his retirement to help Linn settle the contracts, is not expected to play a huge role in the negotiations but instead will be leaned on in a more advisory capacity, according to one insider. 

Barbara Logan: While technically not an employee of the Office of Labor Relations, Logan—a labor consultant who partnered with Linn in starting their own consulting firm, Linn & Logan Consulting—will play an integral role in hammering out the healthcare side of negotiations with the municipal unions, labor sources say. Logan, formerly a consultant with the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes of New York, specializes in health-benefits cost containment and plan design (among other areas)— another sign that de Blasio and Linn may look to find cost savings in healthcare benefits in return for salary increases for some of the city’s unions. 

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Nick Powell