New York City mayoral candidate Bill Thompson Thursday won the endorsement of Teamsters Local 237, his third major municipal union nod in three days, and predicted the backing from organized labor would supply "rocket fuel" to lift his Democratic primary bid.
"What you've seen this week is a campaign that continues to grow in energy," Thompson said at a news conference at Teamsters offices in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. "We're picking up."
The endorsement of the 24,000-member union, which four years ago backed Michael Bloomberg over Thompson for mayor, came one day after the former comptroller landed the coveted support of the United Federation of Teachers.
Local 237 president Gregory Floyd said Thompson, a former city comptroller and onetime head of the Board of Education, stands out among his rivals as "the only adult in the room." He said Thompson had been an advocate for public housing workers and expected Thompson as mayor would negotiate for a "fair contract." Local 237 also represents school safety officers and hospital security officers, among others.
Thompson, the 2009 Democratic nominee, has been lagging in the polls behind City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, former Rep. Anthony Weiner and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, but he said the labor endorsements have boosted his campaign. "If it was turbocharged earlier or yesterday, we're adding rocket fuel to the engine," he said.
In addition to the Teamsters and UFT, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators endorsed Thompson Tuesday. The three unions would provide him with volunteers for getting out the vote and, at least in the case of the UFT, independent financing.
The UFT, which has harshly attacked Bloomberg's educational policies, was in turn criticized Thursday by a Republican mayoral contender, former MTA chairman Joe Lhota.
Speaking at a breakfast for the Association for a Better New York business group, Lhota said he would work with the UFT but not pander to it. "Labor should not expect me to give them a back rub in an election year like so many other candidates," Lhota said.
UFT president Michael Mulgrew shot back that Lhota himself "was pandering to his millionaire base" by speaking at the breakfast.