LaborPress

NEW YORK, N.Y.—Four building-trades unions have backed Queens City Councilmember Francisco Moya’s bid to become the Council’s next Speaker, during a week of jockeying for position among the seven candidates for the post.

NYC Council Member Francisco Moya.

The New York City District Council of Carpenters announced its endorsement Dec. 8. “Whenever organized labor needed a champion, Councilman Moya was there — and more importantly, he got things done,” Carpenters Executive Secretary-Treasurer Joseph Geiger said in a statement.

The Laborers’ two New York State political action committees followed later in the day, as did Laborers Local 79. “Councilman Moya has demonstrated his support for our members throughout his career,” Armand E. Sabitoni, general secretary-treasurer of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, and Robert Bonanza, business manager of the Mason Tenders’ District Council of Greater New York, said in a joint statement. “He has helped advance legislation that supports the unionized construction industry, stood by our side at dozens of rallies, and is a true advocate for working people across New York City.”

“We have known Francisco Moya for many years and worked closely with him,” said Local 79 business manager Mike Prohaska. “Throughout his career in public life, Francisco has been a committed, tireless leader for working people, especially for working families in our city’s immigrant communities and communities of color.”

Moya, 47, represents East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, LeFrak City, and Corona. He was elected to the Council in 2017 after seven years in the state Assembly, where he was the first Ecuadorian-American elected to public office in the United States.

The six other contenders are Councilmembers Adrienne Adams of Queens, Diana Ayala of the Bronx, Justin Brannan of Brooklyn, and Keith Powers, Carlina Rivera, and Gale Brewer of Manhattan. Brewer, term-limited after eight years as Manhattan Borough President, was elected to the Council in November.

The Council will vote to select the Speaker, considered the second-most powerful post in city government, when its new members take office in January. City & State prognosticated Dec. 7 that Moya, Brannan, Powers, and Ayala are the leading contenders, with Rivera, Adams, and Brewer the second tier.

The unions’ endorsements came amid a brouhaha over surrogates for Mayor-elect Eric Adams calling Councilmembers to urge them to support Moya, creating some resentment among both current and incoming members. Adams, who was on vacation in Ghana at the time, has not yet endorsed anyone, although there are reports he is leaning toward Moya or Brannan.

The contenders generally have pro-labor records. Ayala was lead sponsor of the bill passed in November to regulate “body shops,” labor brokers who specialize in supplying former prisoners for low-wage construction jobs, with Moya, Adrienne Adams, and Brannan cosponsors. The measure was a top legislative priority for Laborers Local 79 and the Mason Tenders District Council.

Moya has also been a regular speaker at rallies by the Take It Back campaign and earlier, CountMeIn, demanding that construction contractors use union labor. In November, Local 79 praised him, along with Powers, Brewer, and outgoing Speaker Corey Johnson, for leading the effort to approve rezoning East 67th Street on the Upper East Side so the New York Blood Center could build a new and larger facility. 

In 2020, Moya and Ayala sponsored a bill to require that security guards in homeless shelters with city contracts get paid prevailing wage, $18 an hour. The city budget enacted in June includes $40.5 million to finance that, a victory for 32BJ SEIU.

Moya has also supported the campaign against wage theft in nail salons, and in 2019, sponsored a bill to require private trash haulers to inform workers about their rights on the job. Meanwhile, Rivera and Brannan sponsored bills in the package of legislation to aid “deliveristas,” app-based delivery workers, that the Council passed in September.

The five-union Labor Strong coalition, comprising 32BJ, District Council 37, Communications Workers of America District 1, the Hotel Trades Council, and the New York State Nurses Association, has not yet endorsed a candidate for Speaker. The Daily News reported Dec. 8 that 32BJ and DC37 were considering backing either Rivera, Powers, Adrienne Adams, or Ayala. The Hotel Trades Council, 32BJ, and DC37 all endorsed Adams in the Democratic mayoral primary.

Local 79, which endorsed outgoing City Comptroller Scott Stringer in the mayoral primary, is now strongly aligned with Eric Adams. In August, it organized a rally in the Bronx featuring him, advocating bringing former prisoners into union jobs, ending body shops, and having city-subsidized affordable housing built by union labor — a major departure from practices under the last two mayors, Bill de Blasio and Michael Bloomberg.

“I think he’s big on local hiring,” Local 79 organizing director Chaz Rynkiewicz told LaborPress at the rally.

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