June 19, 2013
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – The second largest state-employee union in New York is backing one of its own to become Manhattan’s next borough president – and the organization’s current president can’t imagine other labor group’s not following suit (Watch Video).
“The political process is that each union has to make their own decision based on what they believe is in the best interest of their own members and the services those members provide, Public Employees Federation [PEF] President Susan Kent told LaborPress on Tuesday. “But in terms of [Councilman] Bob Jackson, I can’t fathom a union not endorsing him.”
Kent may or may not have something there. The powerful United Federation of Teachers [UFT] has already announced its support of Councilman Jackson, citing his support of education.
One of PEF’s biggest issues, meanwhile, is the uncertain future of SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. Even though’s he’s running to become borough president of Manhattan and not Brooklyn, Jackson vowed to fight on PEF's behalf, touting a joined resolution he sponsored along with Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams aimed at preserving SUNY Downstate.
“You should know that I will be standing – not behind you – but with you hand-in-hand to fight on the streets of Manhattan, on the streets of the Bronx and anywhere else in New York City,” Councilman Jackson told supporters. "You have a fighter in the next borough president.”
Councilman Jackson is in a contentious four-way race with Councilwoman Gail Brewer, Councilwoman Jessica Lappin and Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin, to succeed Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.
Both Lappin and Menin have raised considerably more cash for their borough president run than either Brewer or Jackson. But PEF's endorsement is a big boost for the councilman.
Councilman Jackson was a member of PEF from 1975 to 1980. He later went on to serve as PEF's director of Field Services for many years before being elected to the New York City Council in 2001.
Kent urged PEF members to mobilize and help elect Councilman Jackson in the fall. The union president declined, however, to say who PEF might be supporting in another highly contested New York City race – the race to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“There are still a lot of unions, including my own, who have yet to do an endorsement,” Kent said. “We’re just going to have to wait and see on that. We still have time.”