Workers’ union endorsements file in before City Council primary

By Tom Momberg

A few more endorsements, most of them workers’ unions, have been announced for three of the six candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for City Council District 23.

The former member of the mayor’s community affairs unit, Rebecca Lynch, announced an endorsement from the city Coalition of the International Union of Operating Engineers, a workers’ union representing 18,000 crane and heavy equipment operators, stationary engineers, custodians and city inspectors within the five boroughs.

A longtime advocate for unions, Lynch is also running on the Working Families Party line for the election. The coalition cited her work on legislation defending working families and unions in the mayor’s office in touting Lynch as the best candidate in the battle for better wages.

Lynch was also recently endorsed by the Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee, a coalition of pro-choice advocates promoting women in politics and government.

Attorney and activist Ali Najmi announced his endorsements this week from both Unite Here Local 100, the union representing 6,000 food service and restaurant workers in the greater New York City metropolitan area, as well as from the Southeast Queens Clergy for Political Awareness.

“Ali has the right vision and experience to be a champion of workers in the City Council,” Local 100 President Bill Granfield said in a statement. “We look forward to making history with him as he strives to become the first South Asian member of the Council. We appreciate that he joined in the fight to include all airport workers in the 2014 minimum wage policy by rallying with us at JFK (last November).”

That rally came as about 7,500 employees were left out of an earlier agreement at JFK and LaGuardia Airports to receive a $1.10-an-hour pay increase.

Najmi has made a promise during his campaign for more job creation in the eastern Queens district and to advocate for a city raise in the minimum wage. He was endorsed by the New York Times on Thursday.

The Clergy for Political Awareness, a coalition of residents in southeast Queens led by Bishop Charles Norris Sr., cited Najmi’s work with grassroots organizations as best preparing him for being able to address the needs of the community in government funded services and health care.

Barry Grodenchik, currently on leave from his administrative position with the Queens borough president, was joined Tuesday in front of PS 133 by several elected officials in Queens who have already thrown endorsements his way, for an announcement by the United Federation of Teachers making its official commendation of the Democratic candidate.

Grodenchik went through the public school system in eastern Queens as did his son. He has previously worked with the city Department of Education’s administration in his time at Borough Hall and in the state Assembly.

UFT and Grodenchik’s supporters touted him as the best choice in the City Council race for public schools.

“Our schools and our profession are under attack,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said. “With so much at stake, we need leaders like Barry to help protect and strengthen New York City schools. Barry has always been a great ally for teachers and schools, and he’ll be a great Council member for Queens.”

UFT represents 200,000 current and retired public school employees in the city and is the sole union representing their bargaining interests.

Grodenchik also planned to announce an endorsement from the Transportation Workers Union Local 100 on Thursday. That labor union represents bus operators, track workers and car equipment maintenance personnel in the city.

Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomberg@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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