The rally, calling for fair contracts, featured one union leader after another speaking over a massive sound system with their image broadcast on a huge screen.
Michael Palladino, the head of the NYPD detective’s union, invoked 9/11 to the massive, rowdy crowd.
“All of the city union workers came together [after 9/11],” said Palladino. “You helped the city rise up out of the rubble.”
Not long after, Palladino said that Bloomberg was elected and started telling city workers to do more with less.
“They called us heroes—how fast they forget.”
To finish his speech, Palladino brought United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Michael Mulgrew on stage and they sang a rendition of an Irish ballad with altered lyrics: “Goodbye Mikey, I hate to see you go.”
Palladino’s speech and performance were typical of the rally’s general atmosphere of fierce determination.
“We have become a political machine,” said Noel Warshaw, a 40-year-old teacher and UFT member. Warshaw, who has been a teacher for about 12 years, said that after Bloomberg was elected the UFT has become serious about motivating members.
“Since the last election we’ve done phone banks, door knocking,” said Warshaw. “We’ve shown political pundits that we move the polls. We’re a political block.”