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New York City union sues Adams over budget cuts

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(The Center Square) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams has been hit with a lawsuit over proposed budget cuts from a labor union that’s been one of his staunchest political allies.

The lawsuit filed by District Council 37, the city’s largest municipal worker union, takes aim at Adams and several city agencies over the proposed elimination of a job training program that benefits about 2,500 sanitation workers and park employees. The union was among the first to back Adams’ 2021 run for City Hall.

In the 16-page complaint, the union’s lawyers argue that the Adams administration didn’t properly vet the proposal by conducting a cost-benefit analysis, as required by law.

They said the move would result in the “displacement” of workers under the Park Opportunity Program, a job training program for New Yorkers on public benefits.

“New Yorkers are already suffering from the gaps in service caused by the 20,000-plus vacancies that existed before the latest round of cuts,” Henry Garrido, the union’s executive director, said in a statement. “Replacing these workers with contracts is not only costly and short-sighted, it’s an illegal disservice to the working class people who occupy those jobs.”

Last month, Adams announced that the city is seeking $4 billion in across-the-board budget reductions over the next year amid the rising costs of caring for tens of thousands of migrants. He said the cost-cutting will mean fewer police officers on the streets, fewer teachers in classrooms and deep cuts to programs and services.

Adams warned city agencies they should brace for two more rounds of 5% budget cuts early next year – totaling another 10% – if the city doesn’t get more state or federal aid to help with the ongoing influx of migrants.

As part of those plans, the Adams administration plans to contract out the training program, which it projects would save the city nearly $14 million in the next fiscal year and nearly $30 million in fiscal year 2025, according to court filings.

“Despite the fact that the city has calculated the savings it believes it will generate from contacting out this work, upon information and belief, neither the city nor any its agencies have performed the cost-benefit analyses Local Law 63 requires, even though the contracting out is slated to start shortly,” the union’s lawyers wrote in the lawsuit.

The Adams administration defends the proposed cuts and argues that budget writers performed their due diligence to determine if the city would save money from contracting out the training. City Hall also points out that the proposed budget cuts include no layoffs and “minimal” service disruption.

“We are confident that we took all appropriate steps in preparing the November plan, and we will review the complaint,” Adams spokeswoman Liz Garcia said in a statement to media outlets.

The lawsuit is the latest wrangling over Adams proposed budget cuts, which he says were prompted by the influx of more asylum seekers who have overwhelmed city services.

Police unions have said the cuts will mean the NYPD will have fewer than 30,000 employees for the first time in decades, creating public safety concerns in a state where polls have shown crime is a concern for residents.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll found 83% of New Yorkers are concerned that the mayor’s planned budget cuts would impact their daily lives. Meanwhile, Adams’ favorability has taken a nosedive, with a record-low job approval rating of 28%, according to the survey.

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