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Cuomo, Unions, WFP, endorsements, and games

June 8, 2010
Another Cuomo labor endorsement
Tuesday, June 8, 2010 at 5:17 PM by Jimmy Vielkind

Amid stances that have less-than-endeared him to several unions and a decision not to immediately seek the endorsement of the Working Families Party, which has a significant labor component, Andrew Cuomo announced his first another union endorsement: the New York State Building Trades Council. (the Stuart Appelbaum of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Workers Union has backed Cuomo. The Building Trades Council is not his first union)

“Andrew Cuomo and Robert Duffy have put forward a strong agenda to rebuild New York and get our fiscal house in order so we create good paying jobs across the state. We wholeheartedly endorse them because we know they are the best equipped put New York on a path for growth,” said Ed Malloy, the group’s president.

Malloy has known Cuomo for some time, and was a backer in his 2006 run for attorney general. He’s mentioned in this New York Magazine story about the race.

“I deeply appreciate the council’s endorsement and the support of the hard working families of New York. Creating good paying building and construction jobs is key to restoring New York’s economy and rebuilding our state. My New NY Agenda includes a bold plan to rebuild New York’s infrastructure so it can serve as the foundation for future economic growth and job creation,” said Cuomo.

Cuomo’s First Union

Before he had even formally announced his candidacy for governor yesterday, United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 President Bruce Both offered a formal endorsement of AG Andrew Cuomo, calling him “a man of action, not just empty rhetoric.”

The 23,000-member union has a habit of getting in very early with candidates in hopes of maximizing its investment and gaining maneuvering power in a field dominated by bigger labor heavyweights like SEIU 1199, CSEA and the AFL-CIO.

Both’s pre-speech statement ended up hitting on a theme of Cuomo’s event, which featured Jon Bon Jovi’s blue-collar anthem “Work for the Working Man.” The union president said the AG “as been an unwavering supporter of working men and women,” adding:

“Through his policies, he has shown us all he goes well beyond talking the talk. Andrew Cuomo walks the walk.”

“…We live in difficult political times and New Yorkers are crying out for leadership, direction and hope. That call will be answered by Andrew Cuomo as the next Governor of New York State.”

This endorsement doesn’t come as a big surprise – just like Cuomo’s entrance into the race was long expected, so too has his likely support of many labor unions, particularly since he’s the only Democratic candidate for governor.

Also, recall that labor has been agitating against Gov. David Paterson for some time – since the so-called Kingston summit of last summer – with RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum publicly calling in January for Paterson to step aside and clear the way for Cuomo.

(RWDSU has since endorsed Cuomo’s reportedly preferred AG candidate, Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice…are you seeing the pattern starting to emerge here?)

However, a lot has changed since the days when labor was yearning for Cuomo to swoop in and rescue the state.

Cuomo’s take-no-prisoners speech yesterday and policy positions like a freeze on public employee salaries, a property tax cap and support for lifting the charter school cap have made certain segments of the labor community wary of him.

Not surprisingly, NYSUT (despite public opinion against them), which is already at war with the Senate and Paterson administration over charters and education spending cuts, has signaled it might not endorse in the governor’s race this year.

The public employees unions are fighting Paterson’s furlough plan in court and reacted very negatively to his call for a wage freeze. CSEA wouldn’t commit to Cuomo after his big announcement.

Questions remain over whether Cuomo will accept the labor-backed Working Families Party line while it remains under investigation by the US attorney’s office.

It’s not helping the party’s cause that some of its bigger affiliations – 1199, 32BJ, Citizen Action, etc. – are pushing for Sen. Eric Schneiderman, not Rice, for AG.

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