1199SEIU’s Executive Council Unanimously Endorses Bill de Blasio in Race for NYC MayorMay 21, 2013
At a Monday press conference on the steps of New York City Hall, 1199SEIU President George Gresham announced the Union’s support for New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio in the New York City mayoral race.
“We need leaders who have a love for New York. It’s not just about buildings and architecture and it’s not just a playground for the wealthy,” said Gresham. “All we want is someone who is going to stand up for all of us.”
Gresham said the Union’s Executive Council voted unanimously on May 17 to endorse de Blasio and cited the candidate’s long history with 1199SEIU and unwavering dedication to New York City’s working class, noting in particular his tireless advocacy on behalf of 1199SEIU’s homecare workers.
“We need someone who will stand up for working people and who hasn’t forgotten where they came from – who has a history of standing up for working people,” said Gresham after Friday’s vote.
Gresham was joined on the steps of City Hall by a large group of 1199ers, several of whom spoke at the press conference about their support for de Blasio.
“He is about restoring the faith in New York City that has been gone,” said 1199SEIU delegate Jacquelyn Rey Martell, an administrative clerk at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. “He’ll fight for issues that are important to us like education and prison reform – there’s no reason that so many of our young men need to be incarcerated. It costs us more to keep them in prison.”
The decision to endorse de Blasio came after extensive interviews with of all of the candidates and is seen as a pivotal moment in the race. 1199SEIU’s endorsement brings with it an unmatched election operation that includes thousands of volunteers on the ground, a massive phone banking operation, direct mail and other get-out-the-vote activities.
“We are known as a powerful political Union,” said Gresham. “I’m not saying that as a matter of bragging, I’m saying that as a tribute to our members. Politics is the way for working people to have a better life and to have a better way to take care of their families.”
After Gresham’s announcement, a grateful de Blasio, with his wife Chirlane beside him, promised to reunite the Bloomberg-divided city.
“The status quo doesn’t need to continue in the city,” said de Blasio. “Mayor Bloomberg is trying to convince us that we’re on the right track. Talk to people in the outer borough neighborhoods and ask them if they think we’re on the right track.”
Everet Mills, a CNA at Cliffside Nursing Home in Flushing, praised de Blasio’s ambitions. “I really admire his support for education and his identification with the immigrant community, too,” said Mills. “He was also really supportive after Sandy. He wanted to know why people were being put out of hotels and motels when they weren’t ready. I feel like he really supports the issues of working people. He knows what we put into this city.”
De Blasio confidently acknowledged the work that lay ahead and invited every 1199SEIU member to join in helping him change the city.
“I can see what victory looks like because I’m standing next to the people who have been synonymous with change and victory time and time again,” he said.
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