Health workers endorse Maltese’s Senate bid

By Howard Koplowitz

The state’s largest labor union endorsed state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R−Glendale) for re−election last week outside Maltese’s campaign headquarters on Myrtle Avenue.

1199 SEIU, which represents health care workers, cited Maltese’s success in restoring health care cuts in the state budget proposed by Gov. Eliot Spitzer last year. The union also singled out the senator’s efforts in funding Wyckoff Heights Hospital, which straddles the Brooklyn−Queens border, and helping the facility fight closure years ago.

“I think all of our workers know Sen. Maltese stood up to devastating cuts,” said Pat Leopold, the union’s vice president for political action.

Maltese also brought up his securing $175 million to keep Wyckoff open and said Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R−Rockville Centre) and the Senate Finance Committee recently approved $500,000 for the hospital.

“Tough fiscal times are ahead of us and the one thing we can’t shirk off is health care,” the senator said.

The endorsement came less than three weeks before Election Day in which Maltese faces a tough fight with City Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D−Howard Beach).

Maltese’s seat has been targeted by Democrats in their attempts to wrest control of the Senate from Republicans, who have a one−seat majority in the chamber.

The senator said he was proud to receive the backing of 1199 SEIU, which he said “certainly is one of the most influential … unions in Queens County and New York state.”

The union has about 300,000 members, making it the largest in the state.

1199 SEIU has endorsed Maltese in the past, including 2006, when the senator narrowly defeated Ozone Park attorney Albert Baldeo.

Maltese said he should be re−elected to his seat in part because he is the third−highest ranking Republican senator in the state, which means more funding for the district.

If Addabbo were to be elected, Maltese said, “he’d be a junior man,” meaning he could not bring as much money back to the district, which covers Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and Howard Beach.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.