Hirsh worked closely with City Hall to support the scuttled Amazon headquarters deal and ensure passage of a $15 minimum wage in Albany.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has tapped a New York City political powerbroker to guide his administration through the next two years, at a time when his national ambitions have accelerated his eventual lame-duck status.
Alison Hirsh, vice president and political director of 32BJ SEIU, which represents 85,000 building service workers in New York, has been named senior adviser for strategic planning to the mayor. She will begin the $230,000-a-year post in October, more than one year after it was vacated, City Hall spokesperson Freddi Goldstein said.
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In her role, Hirsh will guide the agenda for de Blasio’s final two years as mayor, while overseeing City Hall’s communications team.
The hiring signals renewed energy for de Blasio’s second term, which has been marked by dozens of high-level departures and a shifted focus from municipal governance to his long-shot bid for the White House.
The mayor’s team is partnering with 32BJ to intensify a push for a legislative mandate guaranteeing private-sector workers two weeks paid time off. The bill, which was introduced in 2014, has become a go-to talking point for de Blasio on the presidential campaign trail.
“Alison is one of the most respected people in New York City politics,” he said in a prepared statement. “Her hard work and dedication have proven unmatched as she’s helped secure win after win for New Yorkers.”
Hirsh worked closely with City Hall to support the scuttled Amazon headquarters deal and ensure passage of a $15 minimum wage in Albany as well as a legislative package guaranteeing fast-food workers more structured schedules in the city. The union supported de Blasio’s controversial housing reforms in 2016 and his changes to the city charter last year.
In political circles Hirsh is known as an operative who wields influence but prefers to work behind the scenes. Her union often jumps into electoral campaigns, helping Melinda Katz secure victory in the Queens district attorney primary and backing first-time candidate Alessandra Biaggi in her successful state Senate election last year.
Hirsh said she began contemplating the City Hall job earlier this year, prior to the unexpected death in July of 32BJ president Héctor Figueroa. She will be replaced at the union by her deputy, Candis Tolliver.
“I think the mayor and the administration have laid out a pretty aggressive progressive agenda for the city over the last six years and there’s a lot of work that still needs to get done over the next two-plus years to execute,” she said in a recent interview.
Her husband, Jonathan Green, left his own job in City Hall in May to work as the political director for de Blasio’s presidential bid. Goldstein said she did not know whether he plans to return to city government.
Hirsh acknowledged she is taking the job without knowing if or when de Blasio himself will come back from the trail, though his chances of winning the Democratic nomination are exceedingly unlikely. He has failed to qualify for the televised debate this week and lags in fundraising and poll numbers.
De Blasio’s chief of staff, Emma Wolfe, said the hiring has been in the works for months, and said Hirsh will immediately belong to his small but fiercely loyal inner circle.
“I don’t want to accept any notion that they were de-energized,” she said, in response to whether Hirsh’s hiring signified a reset in City Hall. “But I think it’s very important for the mayor to have a team of people who are waking up every day with a burning desire to carry out the final two years.”