By Alex Davidson
Addabbo, who will no longer serve as head of the city's Parks Committee, said he hopes to increase the Labor Committee's role in mediating conflicts between the mayor and labor unions and that he would like to initiate hearings to examine a host of issues facing municipal workers.
“There are some workers who have been working without contracts for three or more years,” Addabbo said. “But this is bittersweet – I will always have a good place in my heart for parks.”
City council members chose Addabbo to replace Jennings last week at City Hall following criticisms Jennings had not actively fulfilled his duties as chairman. Jennings is also fighting allegations that he sexually harassed two of his former staffers – accusations the councilman has denied.
Councilwoman Helen Foster (D-Bronx) will take over for Addabbo as head of the Parks Committee.
Addabbo, who represents the communities of Howard Beach, Ozone Park, South Ozone Park and the western portion of the Rockaway peninsula, said he plans to work closely with state Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin (D-Flushing), who is also president of the New York City Central Labor Council. The councilman said he will meet soon with a representative from the mayor's office of labor relations to begin establishing a working relationship that had been absent under his predecessor's chairmanship.
“We need to start and find a common ground,” Addabbo said.
Randi Weingarten, who heads the United Federation of Teachers, and other labor leaders have clashed with Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg over his stipulation that workers clock more hours in order to receive pay hikes. Weingarten and others have called for the mayor to put some of the city's $1.4 billion surplus in next year's fiscal budget toward increases in municipal workers' salaries.
For Addabbo, the son of Joe Addabbo Sr., the late borough congressman, this means a high-profile post that could place him in the limelight. Addabbo said he is looking forward to his new position and the tasks it entails.
“I think this puts me on a different level,” Addabbo said.
He said his committee will take up a host of issues affecting the 1.5 million union workers in the metropolitan area.
Addabbo said he tried to negotiate with City Council Speaker Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan) about heading both the Labor and Parks committees, but the body's leader had denied his request. The councilman will, however, remain a member of the Parks Committee.
Said Addabbo: “I still have many parks issues that I have to go forward with.”
Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.