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Labor unions rush to make endorsements in NYC mayoral race

New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang, who is considered the frontrunner in the race to replace Mayor Bill de Blasio, received his first union endorsement last week when the Freelancer’s Union announced him as one of their picks in the upcoming mayor’s race. But at the same time they also endorsed Maya Wiley, in a nod to rank choice voting, which the city recently adopted for local races.

For the first time voters will get to select up to five candidates on their ballots and rank them in order of preference. When it comes time to count votes, candidates with the fewest first choice votes will drop off the ballot and voters’ second choices will be counted. This continues until one candidate receives over 50% of the vote.

Labor leaders will likely try to use this to their advantage by pushing members to vote for their preferred candidate first, but to rank other labor-endorsed candidates second or third in an effort to maintain their leverage with City Hall.

While de Blasio is deeply unpopular with city residents, he has maintained friendships with labor leaders.

Current labor endorsements for mayor also include:

  • Eric Adams, the current borough president of Brooklyn and former city police officer, will likely be endorsed by the city’s largest municipal workers’ union, AFSCME District Council 37. A union spokesman said District Council 37 union members are 15% more likely to turnout to vote than the general public, and 88% union members typically vote for the union-endorsed candidate. Adams has also received endorsements from the Bridge and Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association, Hotel Trades Council, New York State Court Officers Association, and New York State Public Employees Federation.
  • Kathryn Garcia, the former New York City sanitation commissioner, received endorsements from many of the unions she worked with as commissioner, including Teamsters Local 831, Teamsters Local 813, SEIU Local 246, SEIU Local 444 – Sanitation Officers Association, and the Uniformed Sanitation Chiefs Association.
  • Scott Stringer, New York City comptroller, who has heavily courted the private sector labor vote, has received endorsements from Alliance of South Asian American Labor, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, Communications Workers of America District 1, LIUNA-NY, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, Organization of Staff Analysts, and UFCW Local 1500.  
  • Maya Wiley, civil rights activist and former counsel to Mayor de Blasio, received the endorsement and promise of campaign help from 1199SEIU, one of the largest and most active of the city’s unions. She has also received endorsements from Democracy for America, and is the second choice of Coalition for a District Alternative.

The Republican and Democratic primaries will be held June 22.

Suzanne Bates

Suzanne Bates is Senior Writer and Researcher with Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector workers offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2020, Suzanne worked as a journalist for the Associated Press, as Policy Director with the Yankee Institute, as a contributor for The Hartford Courant, and as a regular commentator for WNPR’s The Wheelhouse.