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Transport workers union launches ad criticizing Hochul amid contract dispute

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In a bold move amid ongoing contract negotiations, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) is launching a targeted advertisement aimed at Governor Kathy Hochul. John Samuelsen, the international president of TWU, is leading the charge, denouncing Hochul as a “snake” in a holiday-themed commercial. In the advertisement, Samuelsen invokes the imagery of St. Patrick driving snakes out of Ireland, drawing a parallel to Hochul’s perceived betrayal of working families and Democratic Party values.

The 30-second advertisement, exclusively obtained by NY1, is scheduled for statewide broadcast on television and social media platforms throughout the St. Patrick’s Day weekend. In the ad, Samuelsen accuses Hochul of attacking various pillars of support for working families, including healthcare, retiree benefits, and wages.

Samuelsen, himself an Irish-American labor leader, criticizes Hochul’s stance on issues affecting blue-collar workers, particularly those in commuter rail sectors. He alleges that Hochul’s demands for concessions on pensions, healthcare, wages, and seniority contradict the principles of the trade union movement and the Democratic Party.

Representing approximately 150,000 workers across various industries, Samuelsen finds himself in the midst of contract negotiations with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on behalf of Metro-North train mechanics and cleaners in New York. The TWU is advocating for improved wages and healthcare benefits for its members, amidst a workforce of 70,000 within the MTA.

Samuelsen contends that Hochul’s actions are alienating working-class voters, potentially driving them towards the Republican Party. Despite the governor’s history of supporting labor rights, TWU remains critical, with Samuelsen endorsing Attorney General Letitia James for governor prior to her withdrawal from the race.

Responding to TWU’s criticisms, Hochul’s spokesperson, Avi Small, reaffirmed her longstanding support for labor, citing her history of participating in labor rallies and supporting working people throughout her career. However, tensions between TWU and the governor persist, with the union planning further advertisements targeting Hochul in the days ahead.

As TWU intensifies its campaign against Hochul, focusing on issues such as subway crime and the deployment of the National Guard, the rift between the union and the governor deepens. With substantial financial backing, TWU plans to continue its advocacy efforts through additional critical advertisements aimed at Hochul’s administration.

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