NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo loses major ally amid ongoing scandals

Things are really going off the rails for Gov. Andrew Cuomo!

The governor’s grip on power in Albany suffered a big blow amid mounting scandals — with the head of the state’s largest transit union saying he is looking for another horse to back in next year’s race.

“I didn’t go to Cuomo’s recent fundraiser. I’m over him,” TWU International President John Samuelsen told The Post after nearly every other top labor leader in the state stumped for Cuomo at the June 29 high-dollar soiree.

The powerful national head of Transport Workers Union, which represents 48,562 subway and bus workers in New York, is looking for an alternative to the scandal-tarred incumbent.

“Am I considering an alternative to Cuomo for governor? Absolutely. Definitely,” he said. “We are not going to continue to support dishonest brokers — and Cuomo is one. I’m not going to support a guy who doesn’t support my members.”

Cuomo has been under fire for months amid dueling investigations, including an impeachment inquiry, into several allegations of sexual harassment and his administration’s handling of COVID-19 nursing home deaths.

TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen said he is no longer backing Andrew Cuomo amid the governor's string of scandals.
TWU President John Samuelsen said he is no longer backing Andrew Cuomo amid the governor’s string of scandals.
NY Daily News via Getty Images

Federal investigators are also probing alleged misuse of state resources to write his $5.1 million pandemic memoir, “American Crisis.” The governor has denied any wrongdoing.

TWU backed Cuomo in his 2018 reelection bid against Cynthia Nixon, who made the governor’s management of the MTA a key issue. Samuelsen at the time blasted the actress-turned-pol as an out-of-touch “opportunist” with a grudge against MTA workers.

Samuelsen said the tables have turned with the barrage of scandals orbiting Cuomo.

“How could the labor movement support someone for governor who engaged in workforce criminality, sexual harassment?” he asked.

The former Cuomo ally also groaned about plans to split the MTA’s top job into two positions and use non-union labor at Grand Central Terminal, as well as the Cuomo’s response to reports in 2019 of overtime abuse and fraud at the Long Island Rail Road.

LIRR workers are not represented by TWU, but Cuomo brought the gauntlet down on the entire transit workforce. He hired a former prosecutor to investigate grift and graft, while enacting extra regulations to curtail spending and prevent fraud across the MTA.

Six MTA workers now face federal fraud charges; none of them are TWU members.

“There was a fictional artillery assault on transit workers. It was overtime slander,” Samuelsen said. “I don’t have members employed by the Long Island Rail Road. Not one TWU member was engaged in overtime fraud.”

In recent weeks, Samuelsen also lambasted Cuomo’s proposal to split the MTA’s top job into two positions, and a plan to use non-union labor at the new LIRR terminal set to open beneath Grand Central in 2022.

John Samuelsen said he's "over" Andrew Cuomo.
John Samuelsen said he’s “over” Andrew Cuomo.
Alamy Stock Photo

Many elected Democrats have broken with Cuomo and called for his resignation over sexual harassment allegations amid multiple probes. But Samuelsen is the first prominent labor leader to publicly break with Cuomo, while other union presidents have either stood with the governor or kept quiet.

“Cuomo doesn’t have friends in organized labor. He has unions who have short-term interests in front of the governor,” Samuelsen.

The governor’s June 29 fundraiser was stacked with labor bigwigs. George Gresham, president of the powerful healthcare union SEIU 1199, introduced Cuomo at the event.

Other attendees included Mario Cilento, president of the NYS AFL-CIO; Gary LaBarbera, head of the New York Building and Trades Council; 32 BJ president Kyle Bragg; Stuart Appelbaum, head of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, and Dennis Trainor and Robert Masters of the Communication Workers of America, among others.

Nearly two-thirds of voters in a recent Siena College poll said the third-term governor should resign or not seek a fourth term. Samuelsen said other unions will abandon ship if Attorney General Letitia James finds he broke the law and harassed female staffers.

“How could the labor movement support someone for governor who engaged in workforce criminality, sexual harassment? Look what happened to Scott Stringer,” he said, referring to how decades-old unproven sexual harassment claims derailed the city comptroller’s mayoral candidacy.

“If Cuomo is found guilty in the report, you will see the trade unions start pulling away from him. No doubt about it. If the report demonstrates Cuomo violated workplace laws regarding sexual harassment, he should go [resign]. You’ll see his support evaporate if there are findings of guilt.”

The Cuomo camp accused Samuelsen of being a James supporter and for griping about not getting a pension sweetener approved in Albany. 

“Samuelson is an extortionist who is trying to undo pension reform,” said Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi. “We also understand he is a political supporter of Tish James and she says she may run against the governor, and he wants more benefits in his contract. Everyone gets that.”

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