The labor coalition representing New York City’s nearly 400,000 government workers — including uniformed cops, firefighters and other first responders — is backing a federal lawsuit to block the “crazy” $15 congestion toll to enter Midtown.
“We’re not coming into Manhattan once a week for dinner. We’re coming in every day to proudly serve the people of New York City,” Harry Nespoli, head of the NYC Municipal Labor Committee (MLC), told The Post on Monday.
The presidents of the unions that make up the MLC voted overwhelmingly to join the suit filed last month by the United Federation of Teachers union and Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella, and will issue an amicus brief for the plaintiffs in the case, Nespoli said.
“The congestion toll is just another crazy thing in the city,” Nespoli, who also reps the union of sanitation workers, said.
“No one likes going into our pocket when we’re mandated to come in,” he added. “These are the people who make the city run.”
The MLC’s backing of the lawsuit is evidence of mounting opposition to the controversial new toll to be imposed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as early as May to enter the Midtown business district south of 60th Street.
Transit officials expect the $15 toll to raise $1 billion per year, which will be used to fund $15 billion in bonds to pay for major upgrades to the MTA’s subway, commuter railroads and bus systems.
Drivers will pay significantly less during off-peak hours, as the toll is aimed at helping curb peak-day congestion.
But Nespoli said municipal workers deserve a break — arguing that employees required to work in the Manhattan business district who drive in from the outer boroughs shouldn’t be punished.
“There’s got to be a better way. Pushing the cost onto someone else is not the right way to do it,” he said. “Municipal workers just got raises and now they want to take it away from us.”
The union representing FDNY/EMS ambulance EMTs and paramedics — part of the MLC — previously raised objections to the toll and 18 New York elected officials last week also joined the UFT-Fossella suit as plaintiffs.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy last year filed a separate suit claiming approval for the toll was rushed and that it will be a burden on Garden State motorists.
The law allowing congestion pricing was approved by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Democratic-run legislature in 2019.
Gov. Kathy Hochul — who succeeded Cuomo and holds sway over the MTA — is a strong proponent.
“It will happen,” Hochul insisted last week when asked about legal challenges to the toll.
“We get sued every day. Get in line,” she said. “We have done everything possible to bring this to reality. Change is hard for people.”
She cited the congestion toll in London’s business district as a successful model that New York should emulate.
“Let’s do something smart for the future,” she said.
MTA brass said the time for debate and study is over.
“More than a million people commute into Manhattan’s business district on a typical work day and we need to reduce the number using cars if we are serious about dealing with the congestion that’s clogging roads and slowing down emergency vehicles, buses, sanitation trucks, and commerce while also polluting the air we breathe,” said John McCarthy, the MTA’s chief of policy and external relations.
“This issue has been exhaustively studied in the 4,000-plus page environmental assessment, and will be re-evaluated for the adopted tolling structure before tolling commences.”
Carl Campanile, Nolan Hicks