May 21, 2013
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—George Gresham, President of SEIU1199, the largest union representing health care workers in the country, said at City Hall Monday that the union's128-member executive board didn’t have to sweat to endorse Bill de Blasio because they believe he’s the most progressive candidate for New York mayor. Watch Video
The union announced the endorsement on Friday afternoon, and Mr. Gresham noted at City Hall that it is the union’s first unanimous vote in over 20 years for a candidate pursuing a major political office.
“We believe he’s a real progressive candidate. After 20 years of Republican leadership, this is the voice of working people we need right now,” said Gresham.
The union possesses the largest political action fund among labor unions in the country, and Gresham also said that 1199SEIU will use that critical asset to help de Blasio win.
According to the New York State Board of Elections, the union’s political action fund had a balance of nearly $500,000 as of January when the group made a $3,950 contribution to Mr. de Blasio’s mayoral opponent, Council Speaker Christine Quinn. The latest available records do not indicate how much of the fund might be going to the public advocate.
“We will do what is necessary to make sure that people understand the difference of who should be the next mayor. We haven’t developed strategy, but we are willing to do what is necessary and proper to make sure the public advocate becomes the next mayor.”
Mr. de Blasio has received nearly $4 million in private contributions for his political campaigns since 2006, which is about $3 million less than Council Speaker Quinn has received since 2006, according to the New York City Campaign Finance Board.
With his wife, Chirlane McGray, standing alongside Mr. de Blasio said he was honored to have received support from 1199SEIU, and expressed that honor by implicitly criticizing Council Speaker Quinn on issues and legislation that he believes she watered down.
“1199SEIU’s nurses and caregivers know we need a mayor who is not afraid to ask the rich to pay a little more for early education, to stand up to big real estate when our city needs more affordable housing and to fight until we have a real living wage and comprehensive paid sick leave.”
LaborPress asked Mr. Gresham how would a de Blaiso administration benefit healthcare workers.
"I would say that we want a mayor who would collaborate with us to make sure that both the state and federal government provide the resources to ensure that everyone in New York State receives quality health care," Gresham said.
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