Mayor describes 22,000 municipal worker layoffs as ‘painfully real’ without help from Washington

Mayor Bill de Blasio addressing the press on Aug. 3, 2020. (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

As the city continues to fight back the novel coronavirus and taken on the resulting financial crisis without help from Washington, city agency layoffs are becoming more of a reality. 

De Blasio called the possible layoffs of 22,000 municipal workers a “painfully real” number now that federal stimulus “appears to be dead.”

On Wednesday, de Blasio told reporters that his administration has given guidance to all agencies to find savings wherever possible and that he is continuing to ask Albany to extend the city’s borrowing authority to stave off layoffs. 

If the state denies the city its request to increase its borrowing authority again, his administration will continue to work with the city’s labor unions to negotiate contracts to find “every kind of savings.”

“It resembles the kind of things we had to do decades ago but the job here is to try and avert if we can,” de Blasio said. “We are talking about tens of thousands of families that wil be affected and I don’t want to see that happen.”

The mayor first warned about mass layoffs before budget negotiations in June after revealing that the economic downturn caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic created a $9 billion budget gap. If no aid from Washington or Albany arrived before Oct. 1, the city would be forced to begin layoffs and furloughs. 

When asked by reporters on Wednesday whether to a huge number of layoffs was necessary or just an attempt to fearmonger agencies, de Blasio argued that layoffs and furloughs were a natural progression of austerity measures. 

“I want to be very clear that the overwhelming cost of local government is personnel… and if you keep cutting and keep cutting it has to at some point reach personnel,” said de Blasio. “It’s just pure logic of budget.”