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City union backs Thompson, to Bloomberg’s ire

The city’s largest municipal union last week threw its weight behind city Comptroller William Thompson in the mayoral race, prompting Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s campaign to question what his opponent promised in exchange for the nod.

District Council 37, which has 125,000 members and 50,000 retirees across numerous city departments, endorsed Thompson during a press conference last Thursday morning in Manhattan. The union had endorsed Bloomberg in 2005, but disagreed with his proposal to extend term limits last year and blasted his use of private contractors and outside consultants that cost the city millions of dollars at a time when the city’s workforce is being cut.

DC 37 had interviewed the candidates for mayor last week and based their endorsement on the answers they gave on a union questionnaire.

“It was clear to us from Bill Thompson’s bold and thoughtful answers to our questions that he is not only an ally in our struggle to protect our members, but a champion of millions of hard-working New Yorkers we serve,” said Lillian Roberts, the union’s executive director.

Last Thursday, Bloomberg’s campaign asked Thompson to release the answers he gave on DC 37’s questionnaire to determine whether he promised anything to secure the endorsement. During a press conference on a separate matter that day at Manhattan Community College, the mayor said he “will not make irresponsible promises to win an endorsement,” a spokesman for Bloomberg’s campaign said.

“Bill Thompson should come clean and release this questionnaire,” said Howard Wolfson, Bloomberg’s campaign spokesman. “That way, New Yorkers can learn what he promised DC 37 to secure their endorsement and how much his promises will cost New York taxpayers.”

Thompson said he would not release the questionnaire during the press conference in which DC 37 announced its endorsement.

A spokesman for his campaign said the questions were confidential between Thompson and the union and that, as a matter of courtesy, they would not be released.

The comptroller said he was proud to have received the union’s endorsement.

“For the past eight years, New York’s working families have been ignored,” he said. “It’s time that we make hard-working men and women a priority again.”

DC 37 represents the staff of libraries, hospitals, schools, city colleges and social service centers.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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