Health care union 1199SEIU endorses Queens DA Katz in 2023 re-election bid

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz has earned the support of 1199SEIU in her re-election campaign. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

With five months to go until the June 27 Democratic primary, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz has landed her first major endorsement in her re-election bid.

Katz on Jan. 24 announced that she’s “earned the backing” of 1199SEIU and its 450,000 members, one of the largest and most politically active unions in New York and Queens, specifically.

“The outpouring of support I have received from organized labor has been incredibly humbling, and to receive this major labor endorsement in this race from 1199SEIU is a true honor,” Katz said. “The work the members of 1199SEIU do on an everyday basis to keep out hospitals, nursing homes and the healthcare sector moving has always proved truly invaluable but never more so than in the difficult times brought on the last three years — which began just as I took the reigns of the DA’s office in early 2020.”

Katz was elected district attorney in 2019 and inaugurated just two months before the COVID-19 pandemic. She said one of the most significant fraud cases she has prosecuted during her tenure led to the confiscation of 1.7 million counterfeit N95 face masks before they made their way to hospitals, in a case that directly impacted the lives of 1199SEIU healthcare workers.

“District Attorney Melinda Katz has diligently served Queens County and the 1199 members who live here as district attorney, borough president, and in the state Assembly and City Council. We are proud to endorse her to serve another four years in the DA’s office,” 1199SEIU Downstate Political Director Dell Smitherman said. “As district attorney, Melinda Katz has broken ground on the reality that safety and justice can co-exist. She’s sought to address the root causes of crime to keep our families safe at the same time as she’s launched programs that ensure fairness and justice in the courtroom, such as Queens’ first-ever Conviction Integrity Unit.”

Since 2020, the DA’s Conviction Integrity Unit has vacated 13 convictions and an additional 86 convictions were vacated because they were based on the police work of detectives who were later convicted of various crimes. Katz also led the effort to take illegal ghost guns off the streets and held human traffickers and domestic abusers accountable.

“Keeping workers safe at work and at home is a job I am privileged to do and it will remain my top priority over the rest of this term and into the four years of my next,” Katz said.

Douglaston resident George Grasso retired as administrative judge at Queens Supreme Court, criminal term, in August 2022 to challenge Katz in June’s Democratic primary. Grasso and Katz got their degrees at St. John’s Law School just six years apart and pursued careers in public service. Katz pursued elected office while Grasso spent more than 30 years in the NYPD rising through the ranks to become the first deputy police commissioner before stepping down in 2010 and heading to the bench.

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