Teamsters

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Teamster are winning the battle to save NYC horse carriages

Teamster Brother Steve Malone

The Teamster fight to save New York City's iconic horse carriage industry — and the jobs of 300 Local 553 members — is trotting along at full pace.

Since Mayor Bill de Blasio first announced his crusade to ban Central Park's horse carriages, Teamsters led by Joint Council 16 have locked arms with a diverse coalition of unions and other organizations standing in solidarity with the carriage drivers.

The mayor's war against the industry has suffered more setbacks since Teamsters held a spirited rally at City Hall last December. As Joint Council 16 tells us:

After he was elected in 2013, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio famously declared that he would ban Central Park's horse carriages on "Day One." 534 days later, the carriages are still rolling through the park, and a ban seems less likely than ever.

According to a report last week in the New York Post, de Blasio only has three City Council votes on his side in the key committee needed to move the ban legislation forward -- far short of majority:
Under the cover of budget negotiations, Mayor Bill de Blasio is trying to persuade City Council members to pass his proposed ban on Central Park’s carriage horses — but is coming up lame, sources told The Post.

The sources said de Blasio has lined up no more than three definite “yes” votes on the 13-member Transportation Committee, the first step in moving his legislation to the full council for a vote.

This development followed a City Council briefing hosted by Joint Council 16 in May with Dr. Joesph Bertone who studied the stress hormones in carriage horses. Bertone presented his findings to the City Council, explaining that the horses were not stressed, the Daily News reported:

Joe Bertone, who specializes in equine medicine at Western University of Health Sciences, made the presentation to Democratic City Councilman Rafael Espinal and representatives for several other members, including Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan) and Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn).

Bertone’s study examined the horses’ cortisol levels, which can spike during stress, and found the horses were chilled out.

Reports this spring revealed that the consulting firm hired to conduct a legally mandated, impartial review of the proposed ban was extremely biased:

The consultant is supposed to be impartial, and the city says it is. But drivers counter that the hired firm can't be trusted. Here's why: the president and CEO on the firm's website has lent support to NYCLASS, the leading group pushing the ban.

The firm also lists as a client the company long led by NYCLASS' founder. It's also working to develop the Far West Side. Horse carriage drivers say their stables are valuable real estate.

This glaring conflict of interests was enough to put de Blasio's ban bill even further off track.

The struggle continues for New York Teamsters and the livelihoods of the carriage drivers. But once again Teamsters are proving that when we fight back, we win!

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