As I stood witness to the Triangle Shirtwaist fire centennial commemoration at the corner of Washington Place and Green Street on Friday, March 25, I was surprised and impressed by the size of the crowd, but the most unexpected moment of the day came when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stepped to the microphone.

Every other speaker (and there were many–from Labor Sec. Hilda Solis and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to labor leaders Mary Kay Henry and Bruce Raynor) was met with cheers by the thousands in attendance at the rally. . . but not Mayor Mike. The pro-labor crowd loudly booed and heckled Bloomberg from start to finish. The chants of “get off the stage” were so loud that I (standing right under a speaker) could not hear Bloomberg at all until the organizers turned up the PA.

Black and purple bunting marks the eighth floor of the Asch Building (now the Brown Bldg.), once home to the Triangle Waist Factory. (photo: G. Levine)

The billionaire mayor has spent a lot of time of late making Unions his favorite whipping boy for NYC’s budget woes. Bloomberg has proposed pension cuts for police officers and firefighters, threatened to lay off thousands of teachers, and routinely treats construction accidents as the cost of doing business.

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