Living wage passes; mayor vows to veto Quinn outburst steals the show (38260)

Last week, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 1500 endorsed current New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn for mayor. The union, which represents over 23,000 grocery workers in New York state overall, cited Quinn’s progressive stance on health care, food policy, Walmart and workers’ wages–issues that the union officials believe are important to their membership.

“It was Christine Quinn who understood the problems and inequities in our health care system and led the fight to pass the Health Care Security Act in 2005,” said UFCW Local 1500 President Bruce Both in a statement. “She understood that irresponsible employers who were using state and city health care programs as health insurance for their workers were cheating taxpayers and creating an unfair marketplace for responsible employers.

“It was Christine Quinn who, from the first day Walmart announced its intentions to enter the New York City market, demanded that before they open their doors anywhere in the five boroughs, the world’s largest employer be held accountable for their irresponsible business model, which has devastated communities, mistreated workers and created predatory business practices.”

Both stated that for the past decade, the union felt that Quinn had proven to be a forward-thinking leader when it came to issues that affected its members. But Both wasn’t done with his praise for Quinn.

“Prior to Speaker Quinn’s development of FoodWorks New York, a long-term comprehensive plan for New York City’s food system, there was no real discussion taking place in New York City around establishing a progressive food policy that focused on opening new supermarkets and bringing good health, good food and good jobs to New York City’s food deserts,” said Both. “Speaker Quinn knew that in addition to working on long-standing problems that New York City residents have faced for years, such as affordable housing and transportation, it was time to take a hard look at the city’s food system and understand its impact on our economy and health care system. The passage of the FRESH program while she was speaker was historic.”

Both’s Local 1500 chapter of UFCW is based in Westbury, N.Y., and represents grocery workers in New York City, Long Island, Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties. According to the union, members are employed at various grocery shopping stores such as A&P/Pathmark, Fairway, Stop & Shop, Gristedes, D’Agostino’s, Key Food, Shop Rite and King Kullen. Both said that what Quinn champions and what his union champions make for a perfect fit.

“Speaker Quinn understands that wages matter in growing the economy of this city and sustaining a strong middle class,” Both said. “Through her support for laws that set either living, prevailing or minimum wages for workers in various sectors of our economy, Speaker Quinn has shown a commitment to making sure workers are paid fairly and understands that an economic policy built around the ever-growing wage inequities that exist today is neither smart nor sound policy.”