AOC fires back at NYC’s new mayor over ‘low-skill workers’ comment

Progressive congresswoman clashes with centrist NYC mayor

John Bowden
Monday 10 January 2022 20:38
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<p>Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez </p>

Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez clashed with New York City Mayor Eric Adams last week over phrasing he used to describe food service workers and those in similar professions.

The Bronx and Queens-area representative, who worked as a bartender before joining the House, took issue with a comment Mr Adams made while explaining his opposition to Covid-related restrictions on businesses in the face of rising case numbers attributed to the spread of Omicron.

Mr Adams was widely pilloried on the left for the remark, made at a press conference last Tuesday: “My low-skill workers, my cooks, my dishwashers, my messengers, my shoe shine people, those who work at Dunkin’ Donuts … They don’t have the academic skills to sit in a corner office.”

Ms Ocasio-Cortez responded the next day, writing that Mr Adams’s comment perpetuated a myth created by “wealthy interests” which she said was used “to justify inhumane working conditions, little [to] no healthcare, and low wages”.

“[B]eing a waitress has made me and many others *better* at our jobs than those who’ve never known that life,” she added.

Mr Adams fired back in turn by mocking Ms Ocasio-Cortez in an interview with CNBC, referring to her as the “words police” and quipping that he could only aspire to be as “perfect’ as she was after being directly asked about her tweet.

"I know they're perfect, and there's not much I can do about that," he said of his critics, not directly mentioning the congresswoman by name. "I can only aspire one day to be as perfect as they are."

Ms Ocasio-Cortez supported Maya Wiley one of Mr Adams’s progressive rivals in the hotly-contested Democratic primary for the New York City mayoral race last year. She also encouraged her vast number of supporters to rank a second progressive challenger second on their ballots, a feature of the city’s ranked-choice voting system.

Much of the national attention that focused on that race centred around the candidacy of Andrew Yang, a businessman and former 2020 presidential contender, who outperformed several long-serving members of Congress in his presidential bid thanks to a surge of grassroots support in response to his support for a universal basic income.

Since taking office at the beginning of the year, Mr Adams has stepped into a series of controversies off the bat. In addition to his spat with progressives over his language use while referring to low-wage workers, he is also facing scrutiny after appointing a family member, his brother, to serve as the city’s deputy police commissioner.

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