NEW YORK—Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio named veteran labor negotiator Robert Linn as labor relations director Tuesday, just hours before his inauguration. Linn will be tasked with negotiating the renewal of municipal labor contracts for all 300,000 city workers.
Linn would not discuss negotiations, but said he “would work to create a respectful collaborative labor relations program.” Linn promised not to denigrate public sector workers or collective bargaining. He also praised New York’s top hospitals and the quality of their union workforce.
“A respectful dialogue between labor and management is the best way to resolve workforce issues,” said Linn. Linn previously headed labor relations under Mayor Ed Koch, and handled labor relations for the cities of Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Trenton, and Newark.
“This may be the hardest assignment that anybody in the history of labor relations in this city has taken on,” said de Blasio.
The mayor-elect also named Stanley Brezenoff, who worked with Linn at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, to assist in the contract negotiations. Brezenoff’s official post is special adviser to First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris.
De Blasio also announced Economic Development Corporation (EDC) President Kyle Kimball will keep his job. Speaking of his “Tale of Two Cities” narrative of New York, de Blasio said he expects the EDC will be “one of the pivot points in our efforts to create a more just city.” De Blasio said the EDC’s work will be to create more jobs, particularly good jobs paying a living wage.
De Blasio has frequently criticized the use of tax subsidies and development under Bloomberg, which the EDC handles. Yet de Blasio defended his decision to keep a Bloomberg appointee, saying Kimball was committed to de Blasio’s progressive vision for the city and would implement it with a “full heart.”
Kimball said he would work to implement development projects “authored by the community,” what he called “contextual development.” He cited the Seward Park Mixed-Use Development Project as one initiated by the local community where the EDC got involved to help implement a community designed project.
De Blasio also announced Polly Trottenberg as transportation commissioner. She is currently undersecretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Gilbert Taylor will head the Department of Homeless Services. He is currently deputy commissioner at the NYC Administration for Children’s Services.