Fishman is confident the fiscal cliff problem will be resolved soon.

NEW YORK CITY-For the Real Estate Board of New York‘s 117th Annual Banquet on Jan. 17, is partnering with the organization and interviewing this year’s award winners. Click here to get more information about this year’s banquet. In this segment, we interviewed Mike Fishman, the international executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union, who will be presented with the 2012 Harry B. Helmsley Distinguished New Yorker Award Winner. He spoke with us about what the award means to him and what he sees in the market. What does the award and REBNY mean to you?

Mike Fishman: I am very honored to be receiving this award from REBNY. As the president of 32BJ, we have worked with REBNY over the years and the 13 years I was president, we began our relationship in the early days and gradually learned how to work together in the later days. We are really working together for our mutual interest, which is helping to make the real estate industry thrive in New York, which helps the owners, partners and workers, who we represent, in the real estate industry.

I’ve always believed that the real estate and our union have a common interest, and that interest is in building New York and seeing the real estate industry thrive. We have much more in common than we have disagreements. It’s really been better for me this last year to see that relationship building and see us build a partnership with the leaders of REBNY and President Steve Spinola. I feel really good about our relationship and our ability to work together in the future. What will the mood be like this year at the banquet given what’s taking place in the economy?

Fishman: I think we will come through the fiscal cliff OK. Obviously Hurricane Sandy is an important factor in how everyone feels at this moment. The devastation and relocation that it caused is pretty significant. I do think that in general, assuming we get through the fiscal cliff, people will feel positive about the future. By January, Congress will come to an agreement with the administration, and that will set a good tone for the future and a good tone for New York. From your end of the business, what do you see as the biggest challenges that you and your members are faced with?

Fishman: Having said everything I said about the fiscal cliff, we still have a cloud over the economy. We still need to see the economy take off. Wall Street is not fully recovered. That means that the real estate market is not fully recovered. For working people it means that there is still a fair amount of uncertainty. Many families of our members have suffered job losses or dislocation of their homes, and it hasn’t all come back. There is still that fear for the future. I would like to see, once we get past the fiscal cliff, more investment in infrastructure and in the economy. I hope that would help to rebuild the spirit in the country.