Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s campaign for mayor got a significant boost Friday, with the endorsement of the city’s largest union: 1199 SEIU.
It is the first major labor endorsement for Mr. de Blasio, who has been aggressively courting unions as he tries position himself as the “progressive alternative” to the race’s early front-runner, Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
The New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, a relatively small union known for punching above its weight when it comes to electoral politics, has picked their candidate in the race to replace Council Speaker Chris Quinn: West Side community board chairman Corey Johnson. Josh Gold, HTC’s political director, told Politicker that the race of particular importance to the union due to the growth of hotels there in neighborhoods like Midtown South and the Meatpacking District.
“Corey Johnson has been a community leader on the West Side for over a decade,” Mr. Gold added in a statement. “He has fought for quality jobs, permanent affordable housing, community-minded development and raising the quality of life for residents in the neighborhoods he seeks to represent.”
In one of its first endorsements this year, the influential 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers union has backed District Leader Marc Landis to replace outgoing Upper West Side Councilwoman Gale Brewer. The race to replace Ms. Brewer is one of the most hotly contested in the city, so the backing from one of the state’s labor powerhouses is undoubtedly a nice boost for Mr. Landis’ campaign.
“Marc Landis has a proven record as a progressive activist dedicated to improving our public schools, creating good jobs, advocating for affordable health care and protecting affordable housing for the working families of New York City,” George Gresham, the union’s president, said in a statement.
Last Friday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, frustrated with the current state of contract negotiations with the city’s teachers union, caused a political dust-up when he compared the leadership of the influential United Federation of Teachers to the National Rifle Association. Now, other New York City politicians are demanding an apology.
“Teachers want to work with the best, and most of them are not in sympathy with the union,” Mr. Bloomberg had said before pivoting to one of his preferred talking points when he pushes for tougher federal gun laws. “The N.R.A’s another place where the membership, if you do the polling, doesn’t agree with the leadership.”
Michael Mulgrew, the President of the U.F.T., said he was so infuriated by this comment that he organized today’s press conference on the topic.
have it your way
At several New York fast-food restaurants today, workers have walked off the job to protest what they feel are corporate efforts to stifle their unionization efforts. At locations like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Domino’s, Taco Bell across the city, workers are angling for higher wages in what they say is the first multi-restaurant fast-food strike in American history. And several of the leading candidates for mayor, all Democrats, want everyone to know they have the strikers’ back.
“I support New York’s fast-food workers’ demand for decent wages they can live on to support families, pay bills and put food on the table,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement. “Fast-food companies are some of the wealthiest in America, yet many of their employees earn far below the federal poverty level. These business practices are unacceptable. All working New Yorkers deserve a living wage and the opportunity to join the middle class. I am behind the city’s fast-food workers who are standing up for this right and fighting for fair pay and an economy that works for everyone.”
With the contract negotiations between Consolidated Edison Inc. and its largest New York union alternating between hot and cold, State Senator Greg Ball isn’t going to take it sitting down. Consequently, his office sent out a press release this morning entitled, “BALL TO CON ED: ‘GET IT DONE! CUT THE CRAP, CLOSE THE GAP.’”
Mr. Ball, a Republican from Westchester County, is particularly upset that the workers remain locked out of their jobs during the negotiations.
Continuing the statement’s tendency to stop just short of PG-13 language, Mr. Ball announced, “There is never a good time for Consolidated Edison workers to be on picket lines and that is especially so when it is as hot as Hades!”
DC 37, the public employees union with the largest membership in New York City, announced their congressional endorsements this cycle for competitive primaries, which went to Councilman Charles Barron, Assemblyman Rory Lancman, and Rep. Nydia Velázquez. But it is the endorsement for Mr. Barron that stands out the most, as the rest of organized labor has gotten behind Mr. Barron’s opponent, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, as the two battle to succeed retiring Rep. Ed Towns.
When a crane collapsed in Hudson Yards earlier this month, killing one and injuring four, it set off a big battle between the Bloomberg administration and the crane operators union, the Local 14 of the International Union of Operating Engineers.
The administration wanted stricter standards and crane operators to pass a national certification test; the union said that the administration was merely doing the bidding of real estate developers, who wanted to break their hold on construction jobs, and said that New York City was such a unique environment that a national test wouldn’t be appropriate.
Today, it appears as if the administration won.
Assemblyman Rory Lancman, a candidate for Congress in Queens, declared his consistency on labor issues in response to The Politicker‘s story yesterday noting one of his rivals for the nomination, Assemblywoman Grace Meng, initially indicated she supported Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Tier VI pension proposal before ultimately voting against it.
“I can’t speak for anyone else but when it comes to the issues that matter to working people, you’ll always know where I stand — my light doesn’t flicker,” Mr. Lancman said in a statement after we discussed the issue with his campaign.
The three main Democratic candidates for an open congressional seat in northeastern Queens, Assemblyman Rory Lancman, Assemblywoman Grace Meng, and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, interviewed in front of a panel at District Council 37 last night, which voted overwhelmingly to recommend the union ultimately endorse Mr. Lancman.
Apparently one of the issues at hand, three sources told The Politicker, was confusion about whether Ms. Meng voted for or against Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Tier VI proposal, opposed by public employee unions.
Ms. Meng ultimately voted against it, but, as her campaign explained it this evening, there was a procedural moment in the debate where she indicated she was going to vote in favor of the legislation. Video* of the proceeding indeed shows the total being announced with 45 nays while the official tally has 46.