At the end of March, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn flip-flopped. She had stood in opposition to a paid sick leave bill for years, arguing that the measure would cause economic harm to a city deep in the Great Recession. But the mayoral race’s influence trumped all: Pressing her Democratic base, she switched positions and eventually passed the bill with few exceptions for small businesses. In exchange, she handed the Service Employees International Unions Local 32BJ chapter a victory, resulting in their endorsement of her campaign yesterday.
“For us, the election is a process in which we look at the experience with the candidate. To us, the leadership she has demonstrated on prevailing wage, on stop-and-frisk, on a number of issues, this leadership we value,” union President Hector Figueroa said, alongside Quinn. “We do not necessarily need a mayor that will agree with everything we say.”
When asked about the paid sick leave bill factor, Figuroa assured reporters that the politically personal deal brokered between Quinn and the union to get the bill passed wasn’t the only reason why they endorsed her. “We were already considering Speaker Quinn prior to the passage of paid sick leave,” he stated.
The SEIU 32BJ support–one of the most sought-after in the race–is the largest labor endorsement of the Speaker thus far, handing her a significant amount of voters and electoral sway come September. And, as the union vote continues to self-segregate amongst the candidates, she’ll need it: Bill Thompson has already snagged the United Federation of Teachers vote, John Liu has District Council 37’s backing, and Bill de Blasio is the SEIU 1999’s candidate.
“Does this room feel split? I don’t feel any split!” Quinn remarked in a room packed with SEIU 32BJ union members. Figueroa followed suit: “I don’t think that labor is divided in this race.”
That leaves Anthony Weiner as the sole City Hall aspirer without a major labor endorsement; strange, given his newly plated position as the race’s Democratic frontrunner. So maybe the SEIU 32BJ didn’t feel “split” mid-endorsement, but it sure seems like the division is widening outside for the runner-ups.
Send your tips on the 2013 mayoral race to email@example.com. Follow his tweets here.