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Unions On Board With Mayor De Blasio's Universal Pre-K Plan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Labor leaders said they'll lobby state lawmakers to OK New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's proposal to offer universal pre-kindergarten.

Leaders of several major unions joined de Blasio Monday at a news conference to announce the push.

Unions On Board With Mayor De Blasio's Universal Pre-K Plan

De Blasio took office Jan. 1. The proposal for universal pre-k, plus expanded after-school programs for middle-schoolers, was a centerpiece of the Democrat's campaign.

Vincent Alvarez is president of the city's Central Labor Council. He calls the proposal "critical to tens of thousands of working New Yorkers."

"This is going to be a big political lift but it's a lift -- you're seeing labor is standing here saying we need to get this done," said United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew.

Unions On Board With Mayor De Blasio's Universal Pre-K Plan

The mayor added he knows it will be a fight.

"We don't think it will be easy but we think we will be victorious because we think the support is growing all the time and we don't think anyone doubts that the goal is the right goal. It's a very typical reality in government that people may share certain goals and still might disagree on how to get there," said Mayor de Blasio.

De Blasio wants to pay for it by raising taxes on wealthy New Yorkers. Such a tax hike needs state Legislature approval.

De Blasio says labor leaders' "efforts will make a huge impact.''

A coalition of business leaders, clergy members and academics also support the effort.

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