Eric Adams has responded to the mounting criticism over his “low-skill worker” comments.
The New York City mayor, who was sworn into office over the weekend, claimed the controversy was sparked by bad faith actors who “distorted” his remarks. The 61-year-old former police officer explained his position during a Wednesday appearance on CBS This Morning, pointing out that he, too, once worked in the service industry.
“Listen, I was a cook, I was a dishwasher,” the Democratic lawmaker began (8:11). “… The goal is we need to open the city so low-wage employees are able to survive.People are going to try to take everything I say and distort it, but I’m focused, I’m disciplined, and I’m grinding to bring my city back.”
Adams gave a similar explanation via Twitter just several hours later, claiming one of his priorities was to ensure “low-wage workers” still had jobs amid the COVID-19 surge.
“… If nobody came to my restaurant when I was in college, I wouldn’t have been able to survive,” he wrote. “When you talk about closing down our city, you’re talking about putting low-wage workers out of a job. I’m not letting that happen.”
The controversy began during a Monday press conference, when the NYC mayor emphasized the importance of people returning to their office jobs. Adams suggested that working remotely could harm the service industry, which relies heavily on foot traffic from white-collar workers.
“I don’t know if my businesses are sharing with their employees, ‘You are part of the ecosystem of this city,’” Adams said at Brooklyn Borough Hall. “My low-skill workers, my cooks, my dishwashers, my messengers, my shoe-shine people, those that work in Dunkin’ Donuts, they don’t have the academic skills to sit in the corner office. They need this.”
“That accountant — I need him to go to the cleaners. I need him to go down to Dunkin’ Donuts. I need him to go to the restaurant. I need him to bring in the business traveling,” he continued. “And if we say that, ‘Well, I don’t have to go in. I’m still getting my salary,’ then you are not helping those New Yorkers who need us to come in.”
Adams’ remarks immediately sparked backlash from progressive Democrats, including New York Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“The suggestion that any job is ‘low skill’ is a myth perpetuated by wealthy interests to justify inhumane working conditions, little/no healthcare, and low wages,” tweeted AOC, who famously worked as a bartender/waitress during her congressional campaign. “Plus being a waitress has made me and many others *better* at our jobs than those who’ve never known that life.”