By Bendix Anderson
November 3, 2010
Unions marshaled their might to get out the vote for election day, November 2 — and candidates promise to return the favor.
“The partnership I have had with the union movement is very important to me,” said Tom DiNapoli, Democratic candidate for New York State Comptroller, speaking to hundreds of union members representing the building trades at the Manhattan headquarters of District Council 9 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT).
Workers took stacks of leaflets supporting DiNapoli and the rest of the Democratic ticket. DiNapoli, attorney general candidate Eric Scheinderman and several Congressional candidates faced tough races. The top of the Democratic ticket seemed relatively safe however, with gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo and Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand ahead in pre-election polling.
DiNapoli has earned the support of the building trades by the careful way that he has treated construction contracts as state Comptroller, ruling out contractors who don’t follow workplace regulations. “The care he takes saves the state a lot of money and allows us to compete on a level playing field,” said Jack Kittle, political director for IUPAT.
Union members are also out in force to support Congressional representatives in contested races, hoping to avoid a Republican takeover of Congress. “In the 1990s, when the Republicans controlled the House and Senate, we were under constant attack,” said Mike McGuire political director for D.C. 9
Building trades members handed out flyers and leaflets in support of Rep. John Hall in the 19th Congressional District in Westchester County and Tim Bishop, in the 1st Congressional District, on Long Island, both running contested races.
A few of the construction trades even sent members in support of Rep. Michael McMahon (D) who is also running a contested race on Staten Island. McMahon voted against both health care reform and the extension of unemployment benefits — however, he has been supportive of construction projects that have turned into jobs for the building trades.
“He has been very responsive,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.