NY Mayor Adams reacts to criticisms over comments about ‘low-skill’ workers and their ‘academic’ background

"People are going to try to take everything I say and distort it," said Adams, the newly-inducted mayor of New York City, after catching flack for his earlier statements.

The newly-inducted mayor of New York City is catching flack for recent comments made about the city’s “low-skill workers” during the pandemic.

But he meant “low-wage.”

At a press conference at Brooklyn Borough Hall Monday, held in response to the omicron variant of COVID-19 in the metropolis, Mayor Eric Adams called for big banks to move up their current timelines to return to in-office work. Currently, staffers at JP Morgan and Citigroup are starting to work remotely due to the rising number of coronavirus cases. 

New York City Mayor Eric Adams is catching heat for his comments about its “low-skill” workers in response to rising cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19. (Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

Adams urged larger businesses such as those to encourage their employees to come into their New York offices at least a few days a week in order to support those toiling at smaller operations that rely on commuters. 

“I don’t know if my businesses are sharing with their employees, ‘You are part of the ecosystem of this city,’” Adams told those assembled. “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,” Adams maintained, per Newsweek. “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.”

The mayor’s comments continue to earn him criticism on Twitter. 

One user pointed out the irony of the shift in language when discussing frontline workers during the 2-year pandemic: “2020: ‘essential workers’ 2022: ‘low skilled workers.'”

Another person pointed out Adams’ use of personal pronouns: “Eric Adams constant use of possessive pronouns is already exhausting. My workers, my schools, this dude really think he kingpin.” 

“Eric Adams is about to run NYC like he’s Principal Joe Clark in Lean on Me,” another wrote

Hopes were shared by another that the new mayor learns from his choice of words: “Low Skill Workers is such a demeaning thing to say about people who work in essential jobs such as food service, retail, delivery, hospitality, etc. These are some of the hardest working people & they get paid low wages. I hope Eric Adams never says that about anyone ever again.” 

On Wednesday, Adams, a retired NYPD police captain, appeared on CBS This Morning, where he addressed the criticism against him by attempting to clarify his comments. He said “the dishwashers,” the workers in New York to whom he was referring, can not work remotely.

“The goal is we need to open the city so low-wage employees are able to survive,” he asserted.

Adams said that he too had worked in a restaurant, and if people hadn’t come in, he would not have been able to do his job.

“People are going to try to take everything I say and distort it,” he contended, “but I’m focused, I’m disciplined, and I’m grinding to bring my city back.”

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