New York, NY—A coalition of five major city unions announced their endorsements for 31 City Council candidates, some of whom will represent the next generation of New York City Council leaders if elected on November 2.
The Labor Strong 2021 coalition represents 362,000 workers in a variety of sectors, including healthcare, building services, telecommunications, hospitality and public service. The unions in the coalition include 32BJ SEIU, Communications Workers of America District 1, District Council 37, Hotel Trades Council and the New York State Nurses Association.
All five unions have traditionally and historically played an important individual role in New York City politics. But this is the first time that they are joining forces to collectively endorse candidates, and they emphasized that they will be committing significant resources to the races that they’ve endorsed.
They also noted that this election cycle is particularly critical because the next leaders of the City Council will play an important and outsized role in how New York City recovers economically from the coronavirus pandemic.
To make the endorsements, the coalition noted that all the unions’ political action staff, members, activists and leaders spent long, long days interviewing and meeting with literally hundreds of candidates, the majority of which are women and people of color.
In Manhattan, the coalition has endorsed in District 5 Julie Menin, who previously worked as the Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs. She’s running her first election for City Council.
“I am thrilled to have earned the endorsement of both the Central Labor Council representing over 300 unions in the city and 1.3 million registered voting households. In addition, this week we earned the endorsement of the Labor Strong Coalition—representing the city's hotel workers, nurses, building service workers, communications workers and city employees. I am so proud to have the endorsement of all of these labor unions representing so many of our city's essential workers and am honored to have their support,” Menin said.
In District 4, Councilman Keith Powers (D), who succeeded former Council member Daniel Garodnick, is seeking reelection.
“As our city rebuilds after COVID-19 and this economic crisis, worker protections are more critical than ever. I’m proud to carry the support of the labor coalition as we work together to improve the lives of New Yorkers,” Powers said.
In the crowded District 7 race—11 candidates are running—the coalition has endorsed Shaun Abreu (D). We covered his campaign launch back in November. A tenants’ rights attorney and the son of a 32BJ SEIU janitor, Abreu said that more than ever labor unions play a crucial role protecting and fighting for working families.
“They represent the nurses that have saved lives while risking their own over the last year; the school aides that helped the city’s students feel connected and able to learn; the hotel workers who continue to work to keep one of the city’s most important industries afloat; and so many other workers who we call essential but often treat as much less than that,” said Abreu.
“To all those who have risked their lives during this pandemic, I pledge to you this: In me, you will have more than just an advocate on the City Council. Your voice is my voice, and your struggle will always be mine.”
Kyle Bragg, 32BJ SEIU’s President, said that the coalition has come together to have workers’ needs, their concerns and their voices front and center as the city plans to recover from this incredibly difficult period.
“Throughout this pandemic, our members have never lost their sense of purpose of keeping New York City safe and running. It’s only right that essential workers who have put their lives and their health on the line everyday throughout this pandemic to help New York continue and keep running have a say in shaping the body that is responsible for running our city,” said Bragg.
In addition, Dennis Trainor, Vice President of CWA District One, noted that the city needs leaders who will fight for working families, and make sure that workers are at the center of the recovery.
“Not only in words, but in actions. It won’t be easy. With growing budget deficits in both the state and city, the road to recovery will be challenging. We need partners in government who will not only see how the pandemic exposed long-standing inequities but will seize the opportunity to rebuild a better, stronger and fairer city,” Trainor said.
Henry Garrido, executive director of DC 37, said this upcoming election for the City Council is a defining moment for labor in New York City.
“Our members dedicated their lives to keep New York City safe during the worst pandemic in this nation’s history. Their commitment to this city needs to be reflected in those we elect to the City Council. That is why DC 37 is committed to electing pro-worker candidates who will fight alongside us to ensure that the rights of our members are protected and that the future of this city will be rebuilt with organized labor,” said Garrido.
Similarly, Rick Maroko, HTC’s president, said that the labor movement needs champions in government.
“The unions in this coalition have worked together so tirelessly for weeks to assess an enormous field of candidates, and in our experience most if not all City Council candidates will offer pro-labor talking points and ideas, but we firmly believe that the candidates that we have selected are truly the best suited to be effective advocates for working people in their districts, at City Hall and throughout the course of their careers, Maroko said.
Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, president of NYSNA, said she was honored to stand with the other unions in the public/private sector to elect a truly pro-labor, and thus pro-worker and pro-community majority to the City Council.
“We need to elect leaders who are committed to leveling the playing field for hardworking New Yorkers, leaders to pledge to strengthen our public health infrastructure and our social safety net to take the courage steps to obtain the needed revenue to support these efforts. New Yorkers need prosperity, not austerity, recovery, not rhetoric, and we’re here to support and hold accountable leaders who will work tirelessly to heal New York,” said Sheridan-Gonzalez.