July 27, 2013
By Steven Wishnia
Citing her work to enact sick-pay and prevailing-wage legislation, Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union has endorsed City Council Speaker Christine Quinn for mayor.
“We are enthusiastically and unanimously united behind Chris Quinn,” Local 32BJ President Hector Figueroa announced June 25. He said that while the other Democratic candidates had good intentions and pro-worker credentials, Quinn had the experience to get things done.
“We know she’s been tested,” he said after the announcement.
Figueroa also praised Quinn’s work on the measure requiring employers to give workers paid sick days, saying it was “respectful and mindful of the challenges small businesses face.” The Council passed the bill in May after it was modified to increase the number of employees needed for a business to face the requirement; Quinn had previously kept it bottled up. Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed it, but the Council is expected to override that.
Quinn, clad in a lavender jacket several shades lighter than Figueroa’s SEIU-purple polo shirt, recalled being awed that her father, a union shop steward, “could prevent people from being wrongly fired.” She also vowed to preserve affordable housing and extend the 2012 prevailing-wage law—which covers buildings that receive more than $1 million in city subsidies—to the city’s airports. “Every major airport hub pays the prevailing wage,” she said, but New York’s seem to have “the idea that they’re exempt.” Bloomberg, who vetoed the bill, has sued to keep it from going into effect.
Local 32BJ, which represents 75,000 building-service workers, including custodians, superintendents, and security guards, is the second major New York union to endorse Quinn, following the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. The United Federation of Teachers has endorsed former Comptroller Bill Thompson. Health-care workers’ SEIU Local 1199, whose 200,000 members make it the city’s biggest union, and Communication Workers of America District One are backing Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. District Council 37, the largest city government workers’ union, has endorsed Comptroller John Liu. CWA Local 1180, which is also supporting Liu, is running an ad campaign against Quinn.
Figueroa added that Local 32BJ is also developing a grass-roots campaign for Quinn. The union endorsed Bloomberg for re-election in 2009.