1:23 pm Dec. 13, 2012
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has received the first union endorsement of the mayor's race.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500 endorsed Quinn, who has yet to officially announce her candidacy, citing her fight against Wal-Mart and her fight against companies who were "using State and City healthcare programs as health insurance for their workers."
The union also praised her work in support "for laws that set either a living wage, prevailing wage or minimum wages for workers in various sectors of our economy," said UFCW Local 1500 President Bruce Both. "[S]he is exactly the type of leader necessary to bring all New Yorkers together."
On her official campaign twitter account, Quinn acknowledged the endorsement and said she "'[c]ouldn't be more proud and honored to have their support."
Some union activists have grumbled over Quinn's reluctance to support the Paid Sick Leave legislation, which Mayor Michael Bloomberg and some business leaders oppose, but has enough support in the City Council to override a mayoral veto.
In a brief interview this afternoon, Pat Purcell, assistant to the president, said Quinn was supportive of the legislation but working on a compromise that did not adversely affect the fragile economy.
"It's really not a question about being for it or against it," Purcell said. "We're not at an economy that is fully recovered." Purcell said Local 1500 was very concerned abut the Paid Sick Leave bill, and said its passage is a matter of time. He also said Quinn was working on bringing people to a consensus on this and other bills.
I asked Purcell about the criticism that Quinn is too close to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and represents a continuation of the current administration. (A New York Times story today referred to Bloomberg as "her most important ally.")
"For those who simply just want to disagree, I don't know what we're going to accomplish," said Purcell. "We've previously gone through this," he said, referring to former Council Speaker Gifford Miller, who frequently led the Council in clashes with Bloomberg.
"The question," said Purcell, "is how do we get things done."
After describing Quinn as a consensus-builder, I asked Purcell about another theme that has begun to emerge: New York as a "tale of two cities," which Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has begun asserting with more frequency.
"On prevailing wage and living wage issues," Purcell said, Quinn "has made it clear, wages matter."
The union didn't interview any of the candidates before making their endorsement, which is common for them. "We don't have an extensive interview process," he told me. "When you work with folks for 10, 12 years, you don't need to bring them in for an interview. I know these folks."
Their endorsement of Bloomberg back then became a sore spot after another UFCW affiliate created buttons lampooning Bloomberg's lavish campaign spending. The "Spend it all, Mike!" buttons came from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Workers, whose president, Stuart Appelbaum, said at the time that it was appropriate to have "UFCW" on the buttons.
"The UFCW is not supporting Bloomberg. One UFCW local is - 1500," Appelbaum said. "Most UFCW locals are supporting Thompson."
In the two other citywide races that year, the UFCW also endorsed City Councilwoman Melinda Katz for comptroller and City Councilman Eric Gioia for public advocate. Both were from Queens and lost their Democratic primaries.
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