Who Will Represent Us in City Council?

Local 802 Is Working to Affect the Outcome

Volume CI, No. 6June, 2001

Heather Beaudoin

From Coney Island to Washington Heights, and from Flushing to Soho, candidates for the New York City Council flooded the offices of Local 802 during the last week in April, seeking the union’s endorsement in their upcoming races. The union launched its endorsement process by interviewing more than 70 candidates for 36 different seats, and is continuing to interview.

Given the dynamics of term limits and the generous campaign finance program now available, community and labor activists throughout the city are running for office. Many see the value of having Local 802’s support, and know that we will mobilize our membership to support the campaigns we endorse.

A Local 802 Political Candidate Screening Committee was established to start the endorsement process. Each candidate was asked to fill out a questionnaire prior to being interviewed. Candidates were asked their position on arts funding, misclassification of employees, responsible contracting, living wage legislation and the priority they place on creating affordable housing. Most of the candidates who filled out questionnaires seemed to have positions similar to those 802 has taken on these issues.

City Council members work with the mayor each year to allocate a $3.6 billion budget that dictates how much funding goes to arts education, support for cultural institutions and the creation of affordable housing. The Council has the ability to enact legislation that clearly defines what an independent contractor is, as well as legislation that would support the city’s working men and women by providing a living wage, hiring only responsible contractors, and ensuring that public monies are not used for anti-union organizing campaigns.

The interviews were informative and educational on both sides. The candidates had the opportunity to understand Local 802’s needs and objectives, and 802 representatives learned more about specific neighborhood concerns and the candidates who want to represent their neighborhoods.

The union is continuing to gather information about these City Council seats and will likely make a handful of endorsements this month. The Screening Committee will make recommendations to the Executive Board based on its assessment of which candidates can best fight for our issues, and which races we can have the most impact on.

The union will be contacting members shortly to ask for their help on campaigns in their neighborhoods. If Local 802 is to have any say in where our tax dollars are allocated, or how we can improve workers’ rights, then it is imperative that as many members as possible participate in political action. Only when we show solidarity will politicians take our concerns seriously and support them energetically.

If you would like to get involved in political action please call Heather Beaudoin at (212) 245-4802, ext. 176. Feel free to come to the Political Action office to see the questionnaire or questionnaires filled out in your City Council district.