Having locked up the Democratic nomination without facing a primary, it looks like Andrew Cuomo is working to consolidate his support among the major labor unions.
Last week, he won the endorsement of the 2.5 million-member New York State AFL-CIO, but he has yet to lock up endorsements from such other powerhouses like DC37, NYSUT (New York State’s Teachers) or 1199.
NYSUT is saying that Cuomo’s views on property taxes aren’t cutting it. Cuomo has pushed for a property tax cap that has not been popular with the union. Local school districts throughout the state are funded by property taxes, and a cap could leave school districts underfunded.
Nevertheless, the AFL-CIO sees Cuomo as being a fighter for the middle class.
“We look forward to those principles following him to the governor’s mansion,” AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes said. “Particularly during these difficult economic times, I look forward to that opportunity and the chance for labor to play a role in the rebuilding and revitalization of this great state.”
Labor has played a critical role in tough times in New York in the past, most notably in the 1970s when labor was critical in bringing New York City back from the brink of bankruptcy. In response to the endorsement, Cuomo said that he shares similar goals with the New York State AFL-CIO, especially when it comes to creating jobs, and looks forward to working with labor.
“Today’s endorsement is a major step forward in building our broad coalition to bring change and reform to state government,” Cuomo said last week. “I deeply appreciate the support of the hard working union members of the state of New York.”
Cuomo also has received endorsements from the New York State Building and Construction Trades, the Painters and Allied Trades Union, Council of Sheet Metal Workers and Pipe Trades Association.
It appears to be Cuomo’s promise of more jobs that is fueling his expanding labor support. In a statement, Richard B. Roberts of the Pipe Trades Association said that Cuomo would be best to help the state’s economy.
“We wholeheartedly endorse Andrew Cuomo and Robert Duffy and look forward to working with them to getting our state’s economy back on track and putting New Yorkers back to work,” he said.
The potential sitting out of NYSUT from the governor’s race would be a blow to the Cuomo campaign. The union has a large PAC (Political Action Committee), and the union’s bring-out-the-vote abilities have been critical in many elections, but NYSUT’s union boss is still leaving the door open for a potential endorsement.
“Andrew Cuomo has historically been a supporter of education funding and organized labor while advancing a strong social justice agenda,” NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi said in a statement last week. “Lately, his positions on property tax caps and statements about public employees have raised a lot of concerns among NYSUT members. We want to hear more and learn more before deciding whether to take a position in the governor’s race.”
While 32BJ and SEIU are holding out on a Cuomo endorsement, they have made almost 100 endorsements in Senate and Assembly races. Representing security officers, doormen, porters, maintenance workers, bus drivers, aides, window cleaners and food service workers, 32BJ is the largest private sector union in New York and has launched its on-the-ground election efforts. Members will begin working full-time on a membership voter outreach campaign, including phone banking, door-to-door canvassing and other member mobilization in support of 32BJ’s endorsed candidates.
“32BJ is committed to supporting candidates who will make New York a state that works for working people,” said Mike Fishman, 32BJ president. “Working families can count on these leaders to stand up for them in Albany.”