32BJ announces endorsements, celebrates Puzder’s retreat

Stephon Johnson | 2/23/2017, 10:16 a.m.

The union 32BJ SEIU has been busy of late announcing endorsements on one side and fighting against Andrew Puzder’s nomination on the other.

This week, 32BJ endorsed New York Congresswoman Grace Meng and New York State Assembly Member Michael Blake as vice chairs of the Democratic National Committee. It’s the first time the union’s made endorsements in the DNC leadership race.

“We are aware there are many qualified candidates who share our concerns and embrace our values— that alone represents a positive development for a much-needed realignment of the Democratic Party with the needs of working families,” Figueroa said in a statement. “We wish the Republican Party would also align itself with the majority of Americans instead of being the party of the privileged few. Our country’s political system is in dire need of profound changes to facilitate and encourage the participation of eligible voters in the electoral process.”

Blake expressed appreciation for the endorsement.

“For many years, our brothers and sisters in organized labor have fought on the front lines for the progressive values and investments that are critical to putting families and communities on a path to opportunity and economic success,” said Blake in a statement. “As a member of the New York State Assembly, I know that the victories we have won for workers in the fight for $15, demanding justice for airport workers and in enacting the most comprehensive paid family leave program in the nation would not have been possible without their commitment.”

For the actual DNC chair position, 32BJ endorsed Keith Ellison.

“Representative Ellison is offering an inclusive vision for a Democratic Party ready to channel the energy generated by millions of people across America in support of a country that works for and welcomes all,” stated Figueroa. “Ellison is the right person to lead a process that starts with rebuilding a Democratic Party committed to a grassroots strategy capable of engaging working-class voters and electing working families democrats.”

On the local front, the union endorsed New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James for re-election; Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Bronx borough presidents Gale Brewer, Eric Adams, Melinda Katz and Ruben Diaz Jr., respectively, for re-election; and a couple of dozen City Council members for re-election, including Margaret Chin, Ydanis Rodriguez, Ritchie Torres, Vanessa Gibson, Inez Barron, Jumaane Williams, Mark Levine and Laurie Cumbo.

Figueroa also weighed in on Puzder removing his name from consideration for labor secretary under President Donald Trump. Figueroa said that although the news was good, the CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc. CEO shouldn’t have been considered in the first place.

“Fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder should have never been nominated to lead a department once headed by Frances Perkins, a true working-class hero,” said Figueroa in a statement. “That’s why today, as we celebrate Puzder’s withdrawal, we should also honor Perkins and the many men and women who dedicated their lives to fight for the minimum wage, equal pay, the 40-hour week and the right to have a voice at work. It’s because of them and the millions of hardworking Americans who continue to fight for what’s right that we will prevail.”

Figueroa also had a warning for the new labor secretary nominee Alexander Acosta.

“We look forward to giving Alexander Acosta the level of scrutiny that any nominee to the DOL deserves,” stated Figueroa. “As a union that actively opposed the nomination of Andrew Puzder, a candidate clearly unfit to serve as the head of the Department of Labor, we will continue to ask questions about Acosta’s record and his commitment to protecting workers’ rights, and urge the U.S. Senate to do the same.”