Arthur Schwartz has been ﬁghting the good ﬁghts for more than ﬁve decades. He knows that “going along to get along” doesn’t win transformative change.
A lifelong changemaker, Arthur ﬁrst became an activist at the Bronx HS of Science, and then at Columbia University organizing against the Vietnam War. After college, he attended Hofstra University Law School where he ﬁrst started working with labor union reformers. For the past 4 decades, no one has litigated more union democracy cases than Arthur. City Limits once dubbed Arthur “the equalizer,” and many of his clients went on to win the union office. He went on to serve as counsel to unions including the Utility Workers Union at Con Edison, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union, Professional Staff Congress at CUNY, and for the last 20 years, NYC’s bus and subway worker’s union, Transport Workers Union Local 100.
Not only did Arthur litigate union democracy issues; he represented thousands of workers standing against discrimination, wage theft, and unfair termination. He saw the power of organized workers in action-- in particular, he counts representing TWU during the 2005 strike as a powerful experience that showed how 35,000 workers could have an impact on a city of millions, and how to negotiate a win out of what seemed to be an intractable dispute.
Arthur offered himself as counsel to social movements, having counseled anti-nuclear groups, anti-Central America intervention groups, ACORN, NY Communities for Change, Make the Road NY, Occupy Wall Street, anti-gas pipeline activists, and Black Lives Matter. He founded Advocates for Justice, a non-proﬁt legal foundation whose work includes working with parents who have sued Success Academy a dozen times for mistreating students, and encroaching on space needed for special education students. He has won election and polling place reform, (he was on a team which got the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary restored), representing elderly tenants in eviction and landlord disputes. Currently, Arthur also hosts a weekly radio show on Mondays at 5 PM on WBAI, whose guests have included Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Samelys Lopez, Jamaal Bowman, Mondaire Jones, and Jumaane Williams and leaders of environmental, tenants rights, criminal justice reform groups and groups fighting systemic racism, like Black Lives Matter. And, when WBAI was faced with closure in 2019, Arthur successfully litigated in court to keep the nonproﬁt, listener-supported station on the air, and then became General Counsel to the entire nationwide network it was part of.
Politically, Arthur has helped progressives activists grow and develop their movement. He coordinated Barack Obama’s campaign in Manhattan in 2008 and was elected as a delegate to the Democratic Convention. In 2014 he was Treasure for Zephyr Teachout’s Davida v Goliath run for Governor. In 2016 he served as state-wide counsel to Bernie Sanders’ first Presidential campaign and was again a delegate to the DNC (he served again in 2020). Out of the Sanders campaign, he helped build the NY Progressive Action Network, a state-wide group which he serves as Political Director of. He has served as election counsel to Cynthia Nixon, Jumaane Williams, Mondaire Jones, and many other transformative candidates.
In his local community, Arthur has been a leader for three decades. The local leadership positions he has held include:
District Leader from 1995 until 2005, and from 2013 through the present.
State Democratic Committee Member from 2006 until 2013.
Member of Community Board 2 from 1991 through 2014.
As the founder of the West Village Community Alliance for Parks and Playgrounds, a co-founder of Friends of Hudson River Park, and chair of the Parks and Waterfront Committees of Community Board 2, Arthur is a staunch advocate for parks and green space. In these roles, Arthur successfully:
Secured a $2.5 million allocation for local park and playground renovation,
Helped author legislation to ban commercial development in Hudson River Park,
Got the Route 9a bikeway built,
Won a suit against the Governor to block the rental of Pier 40 to a private parking lot operator, and instead got the State to build ballﬁelds on the Pier.
He has litigated key suits, pro bono, for our community, suing to stop the closure of Beth Israel Hospital, to stop the development of a Costco on 14t Street and 6th Avenue, stopped the closure of token booths, won elevators for local subway stops, sued for the disabled about the elimination of bus stops in the 14th Street Busway, and sued to force a proper environmental review of that Busway. The NY Times’ profile of Arthur starts with this description: “Arthur Z. Schwartz loves to count the ways he has made people miserable.” They weren’t referring to his neighbors.
Arthur has lived in Greenwich Village for 40 years, has raised four children here, has run successful local businesses, and is married to a former leader of the Screen Actors’ Guild.
With our City at its lowest point since the 1970s, we need leaders rooted in their communities that have proven track records of ﬁghting for justice and winning. Arthur is running for City Council because he is one of those leaders; he will hit the ground running and has what it takes to get to work for Soho, Greenwich Village, Chelsea, and Hells Kitchen.